DES MOINES, Iowa — A new 1.6-mile trail is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Des Moines City Council officially accepted $500,000 in grants for phase one of the Central Place Levee Trail project.

While the trail will be more than 3.5 miles running from the downtown Riverwalk to the Inter-Urban Trail along the Des Moines River, the first phase will be only 1.6 miles. It will run from the Riverwalk around the riverbend to 2nd Avenue.

Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Ben Page said the trail will go through historically underserved communities.

He said there’s a growing need for these walkable spaces after 2021 data showed the city saw more than four million trail trips that year.

“There’s a growing need in our community to have an alternative transportation model,” Page said. “These trails aren’t just for recreation anymore. In fact, we’re seeing a lot of people, based on our survey data, that are using these to get back and forth to work, to run an errand to the grocery store, because not everybody has a car or not everybody wants a car, so this is a great alternative.”

Page said the total cost for phase one should be about $1.5 million. Grants will cover about half the cost. Construction on phase one should begin in 2024 with the trail opening in 2025.

Page said there is currently no estimated timetable or cost for phase two.