Jul 13, 2022 - News

Des Moines' plans to connect the riverwalk with the Capitol

A photo of the Des Moines Riverwalk.
A segment of Des Moines' Principal Riverwalk would extend east from this bridge, running next to police headquarters.  Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

Des Moines is trying to buy five blocks of abandoned railroad tracks near downtown's East Court Avenue.

Why it matters: The project would help connect the Principal Riverwalk with the State Capitol grounds, the East Village and Market District.

  • It would also improve walkability, which is part of a larger DSM goal.

State of play: The abandoned line runs east from the foot of the Union Railroad Pedestrian Bridge at East First Street near police headquarters to East Sixth Street.

  • Much of the abandoned railroad line in that area is currently leased for parking.
  • In June, the DSM City Council gave city staffers authorization to proceed with acquisition efforts.

What's next: Acquisition costs are estimated at $1.5 million and should be completed this year, city engineer Steve Naber told Axios Tuesday.

  • Recreational amenities will be planed after the land is purchased as part of a future project that will include "significant private funding solicitation," Ben Page, DSM Parks and Recreation director, told Axios this week.

Of note: The use of eminent domain is an option city staff could consider if the property's owner, Norfolk Southern, is unwilling to sell the property.

  • Company representatives did not speak at June's city council meeting and did not respond to questions from Axios on Tuesday.
  • The City has not received any objections from Norfolk, Naber said Tuesday.
Data: City of Des Moines; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
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