Des Moines Riverwalk Construction Curbs Flooding, Looks Great

Posted by Contractor Stories on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Contractor to be honored at international CONEXPO-CON/AGG equipment exposition for making a significant difference for the community’s quality of life

By Mike Porcaro

iowa-riverwalkEvery city wants to boast about its quality of life, but the construction of the Principal Riverwalk gives Des Moines a distinct advantage in the quality of life contest.

Forbes magazine bolstered Des Moines’ case when it recently named Des Moines one of the “Top 15 U.S. Cities with Emerging Downtowns.”

Scott Mortimer, a publisher who works in Des Moines about half-a-mile from the Riverwalk, couldn’t agree more. “It’s wonderful. I run on the Riverwalk four times a week. I have views of the capitol and downtown, connections to other river trails, and great access to a growing number of small businesses. Bikers, walkers, shoppers, everyone has a reason to like the Riverwalk. It’s a spectacular project,” Mortimer said.

The Principal Riverwalk, completed in January 2013, united the east and west sides of downtown. Built on the western banks of the Des Moines River in the heart of the city, the Riverwalk anchors four of downtown’s major attractions, including the Botanical Center, the Court Avenue District, the Science Center of Iowa and the Iowa Events Center. Its 1.2-mile loop serves as a hub for the city’s bike trails connecting nearly 300 miles of trails throughout Central Iowa.

“Hidden” Infrastructure Benefits Downtown

As beautiful as the Principal Riverwalk is, the most significant benefit of the overall construction project could result from the sewer upgrades that help manage the annual threat of devastating flooding.

Record rains in spring 2013 stirred the city’s memory of recent disasters. The U.S. Geological Survey called “the great flood of 1993” the most devastating flood in U.S. history, as the damage covered 23 million acres of urban and agricultural lands.

While much was done to improve riverfront conditions after the 1993 flood, in 2008 the aging, inadequate storm water sewer system was unable to prevent rising water from backing up into the downtown area. So city officials focused on developing a solution and unanimously approved funds for a construction project to fix the inadequacies of the existing sewer system.

Completing the excavating work on the Sewer Separation Project was Rognes Corp., an experienced and talented contracting firm located in Ankeny, Iowa. Warren Rognes, the head of Rognes Corp., assesses the performance of the infrastructure improvements. “So far everything’s worked as it’s supposed to. The weather this spring has put that project to the test. The biggest problem in the past has been the flooding and they tell me this is the most rain we’ve ever had in the spring.”

Engineer Says Most Don’t Know Downtown Is Safer from Flooding

In an interview while the project was underway, David Kamp, an engineer with the city of Des Moines who was instrumental in the design of the project, said, “The vast majority of Des Moines residents are unaware of just how significant this project really is, or what has taken place underground that now makes the downtown area safer from flooding.”

When Des Moines, Iowa, was founded in 1843 with the building of Fort Des Moines, its founders surely did not visualize that one day the city would be the center of America’s heartland. Construction projects such as the Principal Riverwalk project have played a key role in making the city what it is today.

For contributions to our quality of life, Rognes Corp. will be recognized at North America’s largest construction equipment trade show, CONEXPO-CON/AGG. A company representative and one guest will receive a free trip to the show in Las Vegas in March 2014.

At CONEXPO-CON/AGG, they will see all the innovative new equipment that will continue to support their work for better living brought to you by the men and women of the construction industries.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the international gathering place in North America for the construction industries. The event features exhibits of the latest technologies and innovations in equipment, products and services plus extensive industry-targeted education. The next CONEXPO-CON/AGG is March 4-8, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, USA. More than 100,000 attendees are expected. For more information about CONEXPO-CON/AGG, visit



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