Jan 7, 2022 - News

New Des Moines water trail could mean goodbye to century-old bridge

A photo of a bridge in Des Moines' Water Works Park.
This Des Moines bridge is a popular hangout for recreational trail users in warmer months. It might be scrapped as part of a new water trail plan. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A more than century-old bridge that links some of the metro's busiest trail systems near downtown could be replaced as part of a larger water recreational plan, Sam Carrell, executive director of the DSM Water Works Park Foundation, told Axios this week.

What's happening: "The Circuit" plan would connect multiple Water Works ponds through channels, running parallel to the Raccoon River and George Flagg Parkway.

  • Bridge replacement or a major revision to the structure is necessary to realign road and trail systems.

Why it matters: The plan would allow users to paddle throughout the park while simultaneously boosting clean water efforts.

Plus: The bridge's remaining lifespan is estimated at less than five years.

  • Planning is underway to avoid a possible collapse — like what happened in 2019 to Johnston's Trestle Trail Bridge, where a trail remains closed.

Catch up fast: The foundation behind the project is a nonprofit created in 2013 to improve the 1,500-acre public park without increasing water rates.

  • A $13 million phase that includes playgrounds, art and the Lauridsen Amphitheater is wrapping up. The Circuit is in the next phase.

What's next: Fundraising and further planning. The bridge will likely cost between $2 million and $7 million, depending on design.

  • Construction is likely several years out, Carrell said.
A map of Water Works park
A map showing "The Circuit," a proposed water trail that would run adjacent to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park. Map courtesy of the Des Moines Water Work Foundation

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more