May 17, 2024 - News

Des Moines' Euclid, Douglas avenues face forever diets

A rendering of a Douglas Avenue redesign.

Douglas Avenue will have larger sidewalks with at least five feet of grass between traffic as part of its permanent redesign. Sidewalks and traffic are currently only inches apart along some sections of the road. Rendering: Courtesy of the city of DSM

Road diet test projects along sections of Douglas and Euclid avenues would become permanent under recommendations to the City Council this week.

Why it matters: Some of the busiest roadways in the metro would have fewer lanes.

Catch up fast: Des Moines has been shrinking lanes on major roadways to improve safety for years.

  • Douglas and Euclid's pilot projects launched with signage and pavement markings in 2021, following input from people concerned about crashes.

Driving the news: DSM Transportation Safety Committee this week reviewed how traffic data has changed.

  • Speeds, crashes and injuries were down along most sections, resulting in the committee's nod to make changes permanent.

Zoom in: Euclid's project is between 2nd Avenue and 12th Street.

  • Douglas' is between Merle Hay Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

State of play: Average speeds decreased as much as 6.6mph across Euclid's test area during peak hours in April as compared to April 2021, according to city data.

  • Travel times were up between 12 to 50 seconds.
  • There were 26 injuries from crashes in the Euclid test area last year, down from a five-year average of 31 in 2021.

The intrigue: Sections of the Douglas project have resulted in higher speeds but with fewer crashes.

  • That's linked with a designated turn lane that helps drivers avoid sudden stops, city engineer Steven Naber tells Axios.

What's next: The council will be review the Euclid project Monday. Its estimated costs are about $3.4 million and would be completed in 2025.

A photo near the Intersection of Douglas Avenue and Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.
Pedestrians must currently walk within inches of traffic near the intersection of Douglas Avenue and Merle Hay Road. Photo: Jason Clayowrth/Axios
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