Water Trail Project Takes Shape in Des Moines River Basin

Construction is underway on Monday, October 23rd, as crews prep the first of six downtown launch points of the ICON water trails project. Managers of the project hope to have the Scott Avenue launch point open starting in 2026.Photo: Andrew Houp

If you see construction equipment down in the Des Moines River bed near the Scott Avenue bridge, it's part of a larger project. Iowa Confluence (ICON) Water Trails is a public-private partnership, establishing several kayaking launch points on both the Des Moines and Racoon Rivers in central Iowa. Besides shoreline improvements, the new areas will also have several in-water amenities.

"The in-water amenities are going to include three drops, to allow for safe passage through this stretch of the river. We are also going to be mitigating the existing dam that's located under the Scott Avenue bridge, making it safer for paddlers to recreate and pass over safely," said Monica Converse, project manager for ICON Water Trails. "It's right at the confluence of the Des Moines and Racoon Rivers, so it's a great project to start with because it kind of signifies what we're trying to do with ICON as a whole and connect our region."

After breaking ground earlier this year, they're hoping to have the first drop for kayakers open at the spot in just over two years, it will be the first of six signature sites in the downtown region.

There is a live feed camera for the Scott Avenue construction site linked on their website.

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