City Taking Steps to Make Des Moines More Pedestrian Friendly

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- We all know that walking is good for your health. This summer, the city of Des Moines began taking steps to cash in on another benefit.

Phase one of the walk ability pilot program included removing rush hour parking restrictions on Locust, Mulberry and 7th Streets. Phase two went into effect over the weekend. A three block stretch of 12th Street is now open to two-way traffic.

The city is working with the Urban Land Institute Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Partnership on the study. Their goal is to make downtown more pedestrian friendly and promote business.

“We've done it over in the East Village and it's been a fabulous success and we're anticipating it will be downtown,” said Mayor Frank Cownie.

A decade ago, about 2,000 people were downtown dwellers. Now, the city is nearing 10,000. City leaders are looking for ways to increase foot traffic. They believe that will increase retail and restaurant business.

“We're excited. We think it's going to begin to put that urban feeling into the west side of the river that has been felt over the last decade over in the east,” said Cownie.

Any additional street changes would have to be approved by the City Council. If all goes according to plan, that won’t likely happen until 2017.