January 30, 2023

Last year was filled with a number of accomplishments and milestones for ICON Water Trails. This transformational quality-of-life initiative is already making waves in our community with 14 access points open and accessible. We’re thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish, but we’re even more excited for what’s ahead. See below for a holistic update on all things ICON.

Downtown & BUILD Grant Sites

In November, the Des Moines Area MPO received a bid within budget for the in-water portion of the work at our future Scott Avenue site. We are now able to move forward with construction and anticipate holding a groundbreaking this spring. Stay tuned for this exciting achievement as we begin the process of activating ICON’s downtown run! The remaining portions of the BUILD Grant sites — Harriet Street and Scott Avenue uplands — will go to bid and construction sequentially beginning this fall. All construction for the BUILD Grant sites will be completed by 2025.

Simultaneous with the progress at the Scott Avenue and Harriet Street sites, design and concepting for the Fleur Drive site continue. Thanks to a generous grant from the State of Iowa, construction at the Fleur Drive access point will need to be completed no later than December of 2026. At that time, the Raccoon River will be activated in its entirety, and ICON will be able to begin operations for many of its downtown activities.


In June, the Great Outdoors Foundation received a $300,000 investment from Prairie Meadows for use on ICON Water Trails. The gift from Prairie Meadow’s Legacy Grant program secures naming rights for fishing nodes at the Scott Avenue location near downtown Des Moines.

To date, we have raised nearly $30 million for ICON through our ongoing capital campaign. With a goal of $33.5 million, we are now more than 89 percent complete with our private funding efforts. We have several donor announcements lined up over the coming months, so make sure to check in on our news page for regular updates.

In January, ICON was awarded $15 million through the state’s Water Infrastructure Fund for improvements on the Raccoon River along Fleur Drive. Then, in September, we received $7 million from the State’s Destination Iowa fund to go toward the Scott Avenue project. This $100 million program “invests in transformational attractions that will bolster the quality of life in Iowa Communities and attract visitors and new residents.” You can read the full release here.

We’re also excited to share that the Great Outdoors Foundation has awarded the second MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund grant to the City of Urbandale. The MidAmerican Regional Fund is a $5 million investment in the jurisdictional partners of ICON Water Trails with a semi-annual grant cycle. These dollars are leveraged by ICON’s members to expedite the completion of their sites recommended in the original water trails feasibility study. The synergy and collaboration demonstrated throughout ICON’s system are truly one-of-a-kind.

Public Art

In the fall, it was announced that ICON Water Trails and Bravo Greater Des Moines are jointly investing $500,000 in a two-year grant program to provide matching funds for public art projects along central Iowa waterways. The Bravo/ICON Public Art Grant will seek to generate more artistic and cultural expression along ICON’s access points, creeks, and rivers which will create more everyday, everywhere art experiences and advance regional cultural priorities.

ICON would not be possible without our countless community partners, twelve participating jurisdictions, and dedicated Board of Directors. To learn more about the leadership guiding this project forward, click here. For additional updates, subscribe to the ICON Water Trails newsletter or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.