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
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