Downtown Construction Updates

Spring 2023: Scott Avenue Site Groundbreaking

Fall 2023: Harriett Street Site Letting

Spring 2024: Harriet Street Site Groundbreaking

Fall 2024: Scott Avenue Site Uplands and Fleur Drive Site Letting, Harriet Street Site Complete

Summer 2025: Scott Avenue Site In-River Work Complete, Fleur Drive Site Groundbreaking

Summer 2026: Scott Avenue Site Uplands Complete

Winter 2026: Fleur Drive Site Complete

ICON Operations Planning – Request for Proposal

March 2024

The conceptual design for ICON’s Fleur Drive site is now complete. This access point will include dam mitigation components, fish and recreational passages, and wave features. The design team is now beginning the preliminary design phase, which will progress plans toward the permitting process in the first half of 2024. Coordination with the uplands design and various stakeholders continues.

November 2023

Conceptual design for the Fleur Drive site is now complete. The design team is now beginning the preliminary design phase, which will progress plans towards initiating the permitting process in the first half of 2024. Coordination with the uplands design and various stakeholders continues.

July 2023

Amended schematics for ICON’s Fleur Drive site are being circulated to partners for feedback. The new concept keeps much of the original design but is scaled to accommodate the project’s budget. It remains on schedule with a projected completion date in late 2026.

March 2024

ICON’s Harriet Street site received bids on October 17, and came within budget. Peterson Contractors, Inc. has been selected to fulfill construction for this access point, which is slated to begin in the next few weeks. These improvements include boat access, kayak launches, parking and walkways for users, and an urban wetland that will mitigate stormwater runoff.

November 2023

The Harriet Street site received bids on October 17, and came within budget! The next phase of the process is underway to engage a contractor so work can begin soon.

September 2023

Progress continues at the ICON Harriet Street site. Minor feedback was received from the Iowa Department of Transportation, and amendments and revisions have been incorporated into the final plans. The project is on schedule and is projected to be let on October 17.

July 2023

Progress continues at the ICON Harriet Street site. Check plans were submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation on June 6, and final plans were submitted on July 18. The project is on schedule and is projected to be let on October 17.

March 2024

Principal Point at the Scott Avenue dam continues to advance. Work in the water has begun, and modifications to the existing dam and cascading drop progress, as well as bank stabilization on the south bank at the east end of the project. River levels continue to be favorable, and the project remains on schedule with bidding for the uplands portion of the site projected later this year. You can view a live feed of the site here.

November 2023

Substantial progress continues at the Scott Avenue site. Work in the water has begun! Over the remainder of the fall, the contractor will be working on modifications to the existing dam and cascading drop, as well as bank stabilization on the south bank at the east end of the project. River levels continue to be favorable, and the project remains on schedule.

July 2023

ICON’s Scott Avenue site passed its first audit with the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation on May 18 with no concerns noted. Additionally, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved the contractor’s dewatering and emergency action plans, allowing work in the river to begin. Already, the old railroad bridge footings have been removed, and soon the contractor will begin work on the dam and fish passage.

June 2023

Scott Avenue site passed its first audit with the Federal Highway Administration and Department of Transportation on May 18 with no concerns noted. Additionally, the Iowa Department of Natural Resouces has approved the contractor’s dewatering and emergency action plans, allowing work in the river to begin. Already, the old railroad bridge footings have been removed, and soon the contractor will begin work on the dam and fish passage.

May 2023

The contractor continues to haul rock and boulders to the stockpile site and has now submitted a draft dewatering plan today. Additionally, they have removed the railroad bridge abutment on the south bank of the river and has equipment in place to begin grading the bank. The City of Des Moines’ Phase C Levee contractor continues work on the north bank of the river. They are working to replace rip rap along the north bank, installing a seepage relief trench on the land side of the levee, and are starting to import fill for the levee raise.

April 2023

The contractor has now hauled 10,000 tons of rip rap and over 1,200 tons of boulders to the stockpile site. River levels continue to decrease. The City’s Phase C levee contractor is working on abandoning an existing gatewell and installing a seepage relief trench between SE 6th Street and Scott Avenue on the north side of the levee. ICON’s contractor is working with its engineer on its dewatering and temporary shoring plan. These plans are necessary to meet with the DNR and obtain the necessary permits for their temporary cofferdams and causeways within the river. Once these are submitted and approved, the contractor plans to begin the dam modifications.

March 2023

Mulch piles were removed from the site last week. The City of Des Moines’ Phase C levee contractor has also completed its tree clearing and has left the site. The river levels have dropped approximately 7’ since the peak on March 1 and are approximately 6’ above the low levels when the project began. The contractor has been hauling Class E Rip Rap to the stockpile site located on the City’s property east of the Harriet Street site. The contractor has hauled nearly 1,500 tons of Class E rip rap to the site. Nearly 20,000 tons is needed for the project. This week the contractor started hauling boulders to the stockpile site. The boulders are coming from Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The contractor plans to haul approximately 90 tons per day. Approximately 7,000 tons are needed for the project. The contractor is working to set up the field offices on a vacant lot at 417 Scott Avenue just north of the project.

February 2023

Tree clearing is now complete and the contractor is working on clearing the site. The City of Des Moines’ Phase C levee contractor is also clearing trees along the Carl Voss Trail on the south side of the river. That contractor currently has the trail closed for removals. Once the City’s levee contractor is done with clearing, the trail will be reopened. The intent is for the trail on the south side to remain open until the City needs to close it again to construct the levee on the south side of the river. The contractor plans to begin removing the south abutment of the old railroad bridge that used to cross the river. Then they will build a small causeway to get into the river to remove three pier footings from the old bridge. The design team has reviewed the rock suppliers the contractor has proposed for the project. The contractor is completing testing on the sources to verify compliance with the specifications. Once approved, the contractor will begin hauling rock to a nearby staging area.

January 2023

Construction for the first of ICON’s downtown sites is set to begin this spring, requiring tree felling in a three-acre area along the south bank of the Des Moines River. The historic dam beneath the Scott Avenue bridge is being mostly unchanged by the project with only minor modifications to make it safer, allow paddling access, and improve the fish passage. The overall project is expected to take 3 years and be completed in 2025. Approximately 150 trees will be impacted by the project; however, these will be mitigated according to city ordinance. A combination of tree planting and contributions to the City of Des Moines’ Tree Mitigation Fund will be used to offset the loss of trees at the Scott Avenue site. ICON’s construction has been planned using the highest levels of conservation standards including scheduling fells in a way that avoids potentially impacting the habitats of threatened bat species; ensuring that no bald eagle nests are disturbed and consulting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for methodology and approach; designing new features in partnership with the DNR to ensure for optimal fish passageways and habitats.

The Scott Avenue construction project involves modifications to the existing dam underneath the Scott Avenue bridge, construction of in-river recreational features and improvements for fish habitat, improvements along the south bank to allow access to the river, and rough grading of the south bank to prepare for a future uplands project that will construct walls, trails, and other outdoor amenities. Watch a live feed of the site here.

Scott Avenue Improvements

In 2019, the project was awarded a $25 million BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. As the project is federally funded, the project was required to meet the documentation and notification requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The project was classified as a Countersigned Categorical Exclusion. Because this stage of the project development happened during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, public comment was officially obtained during the NEPA process through the use of an on-line meeting site. The site was live from May 4, 2020 through June 3, 2020. The availability of the site was published in the Des Moines Register and emailed out to local governments and other public groups who may have interest in the project. In addition to the public website, public meetings were held during the original project feasibility study prior to 2020 and there were public presentations to numerous City Boards and Commissions including the Parks and Recreation Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Adjustment (including an additional neighborhood meeting that was necessary for this process) Urban Design and Review Board, Access Advisory Board, Des Moines City Council, and the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. The project received permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and City of Des Moines prior to construction. The Individual permit through the Corps of Engineers also had a 30-day public comment period.

Design and permitting for the project happened throughout 2020 and 2021. The project was initially bid in December 2021 and March 2022, but due to inflated construction prices the bids could not be awarded. The project was repackaged and in November 2022 the Scott Avenue project was awarded to a joint venture of United Contractors, Inc. of Johnston, Iowa and Reilly Construction of Ossian, Iowa. The total contract cost is nearly $41 million. The contracting authority for the project is the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Construction of the project is being overseen by Polk County Public Works through an agreement with the MPO. Construction of the project will not be complete until 2026.

Construction of the project began in February 2023. To begin, it was necessary to remove 2.8 acres of trees along the south bank of the Des Moines River. The tree removal was necessary to be able to grade the banks to provide access to the river along the entire project length and meet the requirements of the City’s floodplain development ordinance. No trees were removed that were not necessary to accommodate the project. There were no eagles nests within the trees that were cleared for the project. The trees were required to be removed by March 31st to avoid impacts to threatened and endangered species. Nearly 15 acres of wooded area will remain between E. 1st Street and SE 6th Street.

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Rooted in the Past

Our rivers were the reason we settled here in the first place. This ambitious undertaking will be the reason we continue to thrive — as cities, communities and individuals.  

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