Waukee, West Des Moines Leaders Say Alice's Road Interchange Will Spur Development
The city of Waukee announced Wednesday that federal authorities have approved an interchange at Alice's Road and Interstate 80. Both Waukee and West Des Moines leaders say it will open up the area for development.
One of the top economic development priorities for Waukee and West Des Moines leaders received a big boost Wednesday from the Federal Highway Administration.
Waukee Mayor Bill Peard, on behalf of the city council and the city of Waukee, announced that the proposed interchange at Alice's Road and Interstate 80 was approved by federal authorities, paving the way for a huge development boom in both cities.
Peard said the approval means plans can finally proceed on a project that has been more than 10 years in the planning.
"I've been saying that this was coming," Peard said. "And it's all because of smart planning and hard work that we put all the right things in motion. We knew, with due diligence, that this would happen. It's what we've been saying all along."
The interchange, among other things, will link Alice's Road to 105th Street in West Des Moines and establish a north/south corridor between the western suburbs.
West Des Moines Mayor Steve Gaer said the interchange will work to lessen traffic congestion in many of the western neighborhoods, something that has become more of a problem as the population out west has swelled.
“That’s very significant for us," Gear said of the project. "We’ve been working on that for 10 years. We really started to focus on that when Jordan Creek Town Center construction was on the table. We recognized we were going to need that at some point, and it turned out that we needed it sooner than we thought because the amount of development in that area and the amount of traffic backing up in the morning and in the evening.”
The interchange will also open the area between 88th Street, which will be extended with the Woodland Hills (formerly Michael’s Landing) development, and 105th Street for additional expansion. Eventually, 105th Street will have three lanes and include a bridge over the Raccoon River, which will allow West Des Moines to expand into already annexed territory.
For the city of Waukee, the interchange, and more importantly the entire Alice's Road master plan, could mean incredible growth opportunities. First adopted in 2004, the Alice's Road corridor plan was considered the future of Waukee. With more than 1,300 acres sitting ripe for development, Alice's Road would mean more opportunities for commercial development, something residents have been asking for for years.
"What it's going to do for development in Waukee is huge," said Peard. "It's going to attract new businesses and high-paying jobs which will lead to a better tax base. That's great news for the city of Waukee."
Progress has been swift on the project in the last six months. In October, the Iowa Department of Transportation announced the award of a RISE grant for $5.29 million for the Alice's Road corridor.
The RISE or Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy program was created in 1985 to "promote economic development in Iowa through the establishment, construction, improvement, and maintenance of roads and streets that promote economic development in the state by improving or maintaining highway access."
The grant was earmarked for the construction of three of six lanes of Alice's Road between University Avenue and Ashworth Road. The total cost of the project is estimated at $10.4 million. Construction is expected to begin this year.
It's estimated that the completed interchange could open in late 2013 or early 2014. The bridge that connects Waukee and West Des Moines over Interstate 80, completed in 2010 and once dubbed "the bridge to nowhere," now has a new nickname.
"It's the bridge to something big now," said Peard. "Everybody in Waukee should be excited about this. There are so many people that have made this thing happen. The efforts of all those people have made Waukee a pretty special place."