Aug 2, 2023 - News

One-way makeovers are workable, Des Moines engineer says

Illustration of a road being kicked and rolled out like a red carpet.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A plan to convert one-way Grand Avenue and Locust Street into two-way traffic is workable, Corey Bogenreif, Des Moines' principal traffic engineer, tells Axios.

Why it matters: There were doubts earlier this year after the city hit pause on conversion plans because emergency officials voiced concerns about response vehicles adequately navigating the redesigned streets.

Yes, but: Going both ways in the future might still just be a fantasy.

  • Final design work continues and the plan has to return to the City Council before the projects get a green light.

Catch up fast: A 2017 Connect Downtown study identified one-way streets as a factor of ongoing speeding problems.

  • The authors recommended lane reductions or conversion of many of downtown's one-way streets into two-way traffic in order to make downtown safer and more welcoming for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • The Grand and Locust conversions were slated to start this year but were delayed as part of an ongoing $327K feasibility study.

What they're saying: Dozens of people have participated in meetings or left feedback on the interactive conversion project's website in recent months.

  • Some are concerned that conversions could divert heavy traffic or speeding to other streets, while others liken Grand and Locust to unnecessary "urban highways" that need to be tamed.

Of note: Some supporters of the conversion have previously told Axios it would curb problems associated with loop scooping.

The big picture: One-way street conversions in cities like Dallas, Denver and Tampa have been ongoing for years, Bloomberg reports.

  • But one-ways that are "context sensitive" with appropriate traffic calming measures can still work effectively and reduce crashes, according to Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

What's next: Design work that's part of DSM's feasibility study is expected to wrap at the end of the year and prior to the council's annual budgeting process.

  • Much of the $8 million conversion is currently anticipated after the fiscal year that begins in July 2026 if approved.

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