Ancient discovery in Des Moines punts $68M DART facility plan
A recent archeological discovery in Des Moines near DART's planned $68 million maintenance facility has resulted in a federal recommendation that the agency find a new location, DART spokesperson Erin Hockman told Axios.
The intrigue: The would-be new location is adjacent to a site where a 7,000-year-old village was discovered in 2010.
- The village's boundaries have not been determined but there's a good possibility that it extends into areas of the proposed bus site, archeologist Branden Scott told Axios.
Why it matters: The transit agency is facing a ticking clock to use millions of dollars in grants on a new facility and construction was slated to start this year.
- Finding a space that is big enough for the operation yet still located in the downtown area — a necessity for efficiency — is tricky, Hockman told Axios yesterday.
Catch up fast: DART's current 11-acre campus at 1100 Dart Way has been damaged by flooding multiple times. Meanwhile, its roughly 50-year-old main facilities building needs an estimated $35 million in updates.
- FTA officials had originally told DART to consider relocating because site deficiencies at its current spot make it ineligible for future grants.
- The transit agency last year proposed building the new bus facility on city-owned property at 2501 Maury St., and demolishing the former Chesterfield School building nearby.
What they're saying: Scott declined to discuss his specific findings, which he described as preliminary.
- The Des Moines City Council will consider more archeological investigations in the coming weeks and evaluate what development options are available, said city spokesperson Al Setka.
- Plans to demolish the former Chesterfield School building on the site are also pending further council review, Setka said.
What's next: The bus maintenance facility project will be delayed at least a year as city and transit officials scout for a new site.
- DART may seek an extension for a $17 million federal grant that has some spending deadlines in September 2023, Hockman said.
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