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Driving Progress: The Path to Interstate 435

I was at an event in Indianola in mid-February to see a draft of the new Warren County Iowa Comprehensive Plan and had the opportunity to spend some time with Mark Snell, Warren County Supervisor. It was through him that I learned about a bipartisan bill that was making its way through the Statehouse, HF 2455 (originally numbered HF 2145). I had not heard any talk of it previously, but it is exciting news for the communities along the US 65/IA 5 Beltway that runs along the southern and eastern sides of the Des Moines Metro area. 

 

The beltway was built in phases between 1994 and 2003 starting at the NE corner where it connects to Interstate 80 and working its way to the SW corner where it meets up with Interstate 35. Visions of this stretch of highway were starting to appear as far back as the 1960’s. I remember much enthusiasm as there was talk of it being designated an Interstate Highway, but that could not happen due to a stretch of road - from where IA 5 connects at Carlisle, IA to the exit at Vandalia Road - needing to be accessible to farm equipment that needed to cross the Des Moines River. This meant that a minimum speed limit of 40 MPH – which is required for interstate highways – could not be applied to that area because of the slow-moving equipment that had to have access to the highway, which prevented it from being designated an Interstate Highway.

 

Any attempts in the past to implement the minimum speed limit were stopped by the agriculture community, because they needed a way to get their farm equipment across the river. Traffic has increased on the beltway over the years and I believe even the ag community agrees that it is becoming more dangerous to be on that highway with slow-moving equipment. As a result, HF 2455 has been created to appropriate funds to create designated ag routes to get farm equipment across the river. This plan now seems to have a lot of support by all parties involved and work could start quickly. This bill is supported by the City of Des Moines, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Des Moines International Airport, Warren County, City of Norwalk, and others. 

 

Warren County Supervisor Mark Snell said, "This legislation is the first of four steps that will begin the process of designating Hwy 65/5 as Interstate 435. This step identifies alternative routes for slow moving ag equipment to traverse across the Des Moines River and provides flexibility for the Iowa DOT to extend to the west a safer exiting route at SW 9th for current slow moving ag equipment. This is a major step forward in attaining Interstate designation.  Federal legislation will need to follow the state legislature's lead." 

 

Hollie Zajicek, Economic Development Director for the City of Norwalk commented, “The redesignation of Highway 5 to an interstate is a critical component of future growth for communities like Norwalk. This designation would change the face of the Des Moines metro, especially for the communities bordering HWY 5. Being connected to an interstate opens up boundless opportunities for new development, and recruitment ability of high quality companies with specific logistical requirements. This is a very important economic and transportation initiative for Iowa as a whole.” 

 

Ultimately, HF 2455 brings hope and momentum to the future of the US 65/IA 5 Beltway. The collaborative efforts of communities, leaders, and organizations signify a crucial step toward transforming this stretch into Interstate 435. With the prospect of designated ag routes and increased safety measures, the vision of a more dynamic interstate is within reach, holding immense potential for economic growth and enhanced transportation in central Iowa. 

 

Norwalk IA Real EstateJon Niemeyer, Broker/Owner/REALTOR® at EXIT Realty North Star. I list and sell real estate in Central Iowa including Norwalk, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Cumming, Indianola, Carlisle, Waukee, Urbandale, Grimes, Clive, Johnston, Ankeny, Altoona, and Pleasant Hill in the Counties of Warren, Polk, Dallas, and Madison. Call Jon Niemeyer at 515-490-4675. 

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