Apr 13, 2022 - News

Central Iowa's $125 million water trails project could be downsized

A photo of the Des Moines River.

The Iowa Confluence Water Trails (ICON) project includes the Des Moines River in downtown. Photo: Steve Pope/Getty Images

Eliminating pieces of a $125 million water recreational trails project in central Iowa may be necessary after two failed bidding attempts.

  • That's what Todd Ashby, the director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), wrote in an email to a policy committee last week.

Why it matters: The Iowa Confluence Water Trails (ICON) project is one of the largest pending public projects in central Iowa.

  • Millions of dollars in finances are at stake as deadline for grants approach.

Catch up fast: The MPO had hoped the project — which includes a 150-mile network of water amenities like boat launches and whitewater runs — could begin construction as early as June.

  • But no contractors bid on the first piece of the project last year. And a second attempt resulted in a single $73 million bid that was rejected last week because it was as much as double earlier cost estimates.

What he's saying: Ashby wrote that splitting the work into four separate contracts may entice more local businesses to bid.

Meanwhile, Mayor Frank Cownie, an ICON board member, told Axios that he's concerned about the project, but remains hopeful that a third attempt can be made to launch construction.

Of note: Justin Lechtenberg, executive vice president of the Ossian-based Reilly Construction, declined to comment to Axios about his company's bid.

What's next: The MPO's executive committee will discuss the water trails during a meeting Wednesday at 11:30am.

  • A full update is expected April 21, Ashby wrote.

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