Central Iowa officials are putting the brakes on a drive to designate a new interstate that wraps around Des Moines. The story from IPR’s Rick Fredericksen.
The existing divided highway around the south and east sides of Des Moines are known as highways 5 and 65. Commercial interests have been pushing to have the beltway re-classified as Iowa’s newest interstate, to make the corridor more attractive for economic development. Todd Ashby is Executive Director of the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"A lot of the site selection that’s done, the first cut is always looking at do you have interstate access, and so these areas that are along Highways 5/65, their sites pop up a little better if it’s designated as an interstate. Farm communities that use that facility to move equipment and grain and some of their supplies along that corridor, if it’s designated an interstate, it limits slow moving vehicles from there and there’s also weight limits placed on the facility that are more stringent than is currently there.”
Several communities along the bypass are already on board, but agriculture interests are opposed; slow-moving tractors and other farm-to-market vehicles are banned from interstates. Farmers would be detoured to side roads which would slow the harvest. The proposal is not dead, but has moved to the slower lane of traffic to allow time for more study.