FHWA rejects Iowa interchange plan

Interchange would have linked Waukee, West Des Moines

News The Des Moines Register July 09, 2007
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The Federal Highway Administration rejected a plan for a new $16 million interchange on I-80 in Iowa’s Dallas County that was seen as a way to spur development in Waukee and West Des Moines, state and federal officials said July 6, according to a report in The Des Moines Register.

The suburban interchange would have linked proposed extensions of 105th Street in West Des Moines and Alice's Road in Waukee. Officials had hoped interchange would lead to the construction of more shopping areas, office buildings, hotels and residential development, the newspaper reported.

Vowing not to give up, local officials promised to return with the request in the future.

The Federal Highway Administration has the final authority to approve or deny projects on the interstate highway system, and has decided that a new interchange in Dallas County isn't currently justified, according to the Register.

Max Grogg, a federal highway engineer in Ames, Iowa, sent a letter that highlighted problems with the plan to the Iowa Department of Transportation. He wrote that the request for the project contained traffic data and an analysis that don't satisfy federal policies for building additional highway interchanges, the newspaper reported.

The rejection of the interchange plans means that motorists on I-80 will be able to use DOT rest areas in Dallas County for now, John Selmer, an Iowa DOT district engineer, said Friday, according to the newspaper. The plans had proposed building the new interchange on the site of the rest areas and relocating the facilities.

"The approval has been denied, so we are working with the communities, trying to see what options are available," Selmer said.

Selmer said it is possible that federal approval will be sought to construct a bridge over I-80 to link Alice's Road with 105th Street, as an interim solution until approval could be obtained for the construction of a full interchange, the Register reported.

Waukee's community development director, Jody Gunderson, said the plans for the interchange are definitely not dead, the newspaper reported.

"Our sticking point is to get some traffic numbers which accurately demonstrate what is going on out there," Gunderson said, according to the paper. "I am optimistic that we will be able to get that done, and we are starting the process right now."

There are no restrictions on when local officials can resubmit their request, Grogg said.

Larry Read, West Des Moines' public works director, said he believes a bridge over I-80 to link Alice's Road with 105th Street can be built within two to three years, according to the Register.

"We think by the time we get that project going that there will be new traffic projections. ... That will then allow us to proceed with the interchange ramps," Read said.

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