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WEST MLK FULLY REOPENS MONTHS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, SIGNALING MAJOR PROGRESS IN CRUCIAL WRA PROJECT

6/26/2024

DES MOINES, IOWA — Tuesday, June 25, 2024 — Following a year of being reduced to just two lanes of traffic, West Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway will be fully reopened this week.

The westbound lanes of West MLK had been closed since spring of last year for the Des Moines Metropolitan Wastewater Reclamation Authority’s (WRA) Ingersoll Run Outlet Sewer Project. Despite the name, the project is mostly staged south of Ingersoll Avenue through downtown to install a brand-new sanitary sewer line, with the largest segment (Segment 1) running beneath West MLK from SW 16th to SW 2nd Street.

“This essential, EPA-mandated project will allow the WRA to treat wastewater before it enters our waterways,” said WRA Facilities Engineer Melissa Schlickbernd. “We truly appreciate the public’s patience as this work to improve water quality in the Metro is completed.”

The Ingersoll Run Project is one of several efforts by the WRA to eliminate combined sewer overflows, which occur when heavy rainfall enters sewer lines that carry both stormwater and wastewater. While the WRA is equipped with a wet weather facility, this can often result in untreated wastewater being discharged directly into the Des Moines River.

Originally anticipated to be completed in December 2024, contractors are almost six months ahead of schedule and were able to open the westbound lanes last Saturday. Contractors and City Engineering staff will continue to work to get West MLK fully reopened this week, with pavement markings and lane lines being redone and traffic signals being adjusted.

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“Having one of the City’s major roadways fully operational after implementing critical infrastructure improvements is a significant milestone,” said City Engineer Steve Naber. “The WRA and its contractor did an excellent job on this project, and it’s rewarding to show outcomes after years of historic infrastructure investments in our City.”

The WRA has already begun work on the final segment of the Ingersoll Run Project, mostly taking place along the Western Gateway of Downtown Des Moines, which also includes several road and trail improvements from the City’s Engineering Department.

Residents and visitors are asked to obey all traffic signs and use caution around construction sites. The latest road and trail closures can be found at DSM.city/Closures.

Those with questions regarding the sewer separation work can contact Melissa Schlickbernd at (515) 822-1506 or MDSchlickbernd@dmgov.org. Traffic improvement questions can be directed to Justin Miller at (515) 208-4933 or JWMiller@dmgov.org.

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