Frequently asked questions

What is Integrated Corridor Management, or ICM?

As traffic volumes grow, we need to figure out new ways to meet the needs of safety, traffic flow, sustainability, and accessibility of our system. Integrated corridor management is a way to proactively manage and operate transportation systems in a region. Freeways, arterials, transit, and parking systems within a corridor are treated as a system, rather than individual components, and it is delivered in a more cost-effective manner.

Why ICM in the Des Moines Metro?

ICM will help with common issues in the metro area, including:

  • Frequent congestion issues due to bottlenecks, poor signal timing, traffic incidents, and bad weather.
  • Limited funding and room for capacity improvements.

Who is developing the ICM program for the Des Moines Metro?

Collaboration is key in this project. There are several different agencies working together to develop the ICM program for the Des Moines Metro, including:

  • Iowa DOT
  • Des Moines Area MPO
  • DART
  • Local municipalities (their engineering divisions)
  • Local law enforcement and first responders
  • Greater Des Moines Partnership and the local business community
  • Local law enforcement and first responders
  • State and federal agencies

What are the project boundaries for Des Moines ICM?

The ICM project boundaries in the Des Moines metro include:

  • Freeways including Interstate 235, Interstate 35, and Interstate 80
  • Selected parallel and connecting highways and arterials

View a map of the project boundaries

What are the goals of Des Moines ICM?

  • Identify transportation solutions appropriate for the Des Moines metro that reduce the number of built-infrastructure investments.
  • Improve safety, mobility, travel time reliability, and accessibility throughout the metro.
  • Strengthen interagency partnerships to manage the transportation system.

What are the benefits of Integrated Corridor Management?

  • Fewer traffic incidents, particularly ones that occur as a result of another event, also called secondary incidents.
  • Reduced amount of time an incident has the potential to impact traffic, in turn increasing safety and mobility.
  • More predictable travel times.
  • Ability to more quickly make incident information available on traveler information sources.
  • Increased or more complete information about other routes or travel options if an incident or traffic congestion does occur.
  • Increased use of other routes or travel options to meet the demand of traffic.
  • Reduced vehicle emissions and fuel consumption resulting from congestion.


There are several new initiatives that we are bringing to the metro including Ramp Metering, Dynamic Shoulder Use, and Travel Demand Management. Learn more about these efforts:

What is Ramp Metering?
A ramp meter, ramp signal, or metering light is a device, usually a basic traffic light or a two-section signal light together with a signal controller, that regulates the flow of traffic entering freeways according to current traffic conditions.

What is Dynamic Shoulder Use?
Dynamic part-time shoulder use allows for general purpose traffic to temporarily use the shoulder as a travel lane as needed based on real-time traffic conditions.

How will Ramp Metering Impact My Commute?
During peak traffic times, you should expect to stop if your ramp meter is red before proceeding onto the freeway. However, this change will positively impact your commute by reducing traffic congestion on the freeway.

What are my options for alternative commutes?
Commuters to the Des Moines metro area have several transportation alternatives. These include public transportation (DART and HIRTA), vanpool, ridesharing, alternative work hours, and telecommuting (if permitted by your employer). Shorter commutes can be completed by walking or bicycling.

When will ramp metering start?
Planning for ramp meters are underway. The pilot project was included in the 2022-2026 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program with funding programmed in fiscal year 2024. . However, due to the pandemic, additional public outreach and data analysis will be conducted prior to a final decision being made on whether to proceed to implementation. If the project proceeds to construction, it is estimated to take approximately 12 months. .

Where will the new ramp meters be placed?
If it proceeds to implementation, Ramp Metering will be piloted along the I-235 corridor. Ramp meters are recommended for westbound travel from 2nd Avenue to 63rd Street within the City of Des Moines. Ramp meters are recommended for eastbound travel from 50th Street in West Des Moines to 63rd Street in the City of Des Moines. The Des Moines ICM study recommends further implementation of ramp meters within the Des Moines urbanized area. Future deployments would adapt to lessons learned from the pilot deployment. Ramp metering has also been proven successful in many other cities around the nation.

What are the penalties for running a red on the ramp meter?
Failure to stop for a red ramp meter is treated as a moving violation. *From Denver.

When will dynamic shouldering start?
Planning for dynamic shoulder use are already underway. However, the project is not currently in the Iowa Transportation Improvement Program. If it is added to the Program, construction is estimated to take approximately 15 months.

What parts of the freeway will feature dynamic shoulder use? 
If implemented, dynamic shoulder will likely be initially used on I-35/80 between 86th Street and the Northeast Mixmaster [system interchange of I-35/I-80/I-235]

What are the Phase 1 strategies (near-term deployments) for ICM?

  • Regional Traffic Signal Optimization
    • Objective: Improve traffic signal operations along arterials key to the operation of the ICM corridor.
  • Ramp Queue Spillback Mitigation
    • Objective: Reduce instances of freeway off-ramp traffic backing up on the freeway mainline.
  • Over Dimension Freight Vehicle Permitting
    • Objective: Limit over dimension freight vehicle operations during peak periods to improve safety and network efficiency.
  • Median Barrier Gates
    • Objective: Improve responder access to incidents along the interstate system in areas with long distances between interchanges or adjacent to systems interchanges and high incident rates.
  • Ramp Naming Conventions
    • Objective: Decrease incident response time.

What’s next for the Des Moines ICM program?

Next steps for the ICM program include:

  • The development of a program charter that will empower a multi-partner committee to implement the ICM vision in the region.
  • The design and implementation of Phase 1 (near-term) strategies.
  • Programmatic implementation of mid-to-long term strategies by ICM partners.


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