Ames City Council approves RAGBRAI road closures


Jacob Rice

Ward 2 Rep. Tim Gartin listens to a presentation on Jan. 24.

The Ames City Council approved road closures during RAGBRAI for inbound and outbound routes, camping and welcoming areas as the city prepares for organizers attempting to have 100,000 riders bike from Ames to Des Moines.

The inbound closures are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 25 and include Mortensen Road, from east of Pinon Drive to Ash Avenue, Dotson Drive between Mortensen Road and the southwest parking lot of Ames Middle School, Seagrave Boulevard and the northbound lane of
Beach Avenue between Mortensen and Greenbriar Circle.

The welcome and camping area closures include South 4th Street between University Boulevard and South Hazel Avenue from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 25 and 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 26 and 6th Street between University Boulevard and Brookridge Avenue from 8 a.m. July 25 to 10 a.m. July 26.

The outbound closures are from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on July 26 and include eastbound lanes of the Mortensen Road boulevard, both U.S. 30 off-ramps at South Dakota, South 4th Street between University Boulevard and Hazel Avenue and Latimer Lane and Tripp Street between Wilmoth Avenue and State Avenue.

Ames Assistant City Manager Brian Phillips said it is fortunate that the city already has experience with RAGBRAI.

“The volume of bicycle riders that are going to be entering Ames requires a lot of logistics,” Phillips said.

The route is similar to RAGBRAI in 2018, but this year the route into Ames ends after a lap around Jack Trice Stadium and crossing the newly constructed Iowa State bridge.

President and CEO of Discover Ames Kevin Bourke said they will use a lot of outlets to spread the message the best they can.

“We have some volunteers that will be going to some areas around the stadium that will be going door to door to help recruit for some housing and maybe with that piece we can help spread some of the message that way as well,” Bourke said.

Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher said the city should reach out to the nearby neighborhood associations to inform residents about the city’s RAGBRAI actions.

“It might be good to email the neighborhood associations on Oak to Riverside, SCAN and College Creek,” Betcher said. “They I believe still have fairly large email lists associated with them and those are the most impacted neighborhoods.”

Phillips also said the city plans to use nearby parks as well as the ISU tailgating and Towers lots for camping.

“With the volume of people who are going to be crossing and congregating on some of our streets near those camping areas, we’re going to have some closures that occur on the day the riders come into town,” Phillips said.

Bourke said while it was investigated, they are unable to use Ames Community School District property like Ames Middle School for RAGBRAI.

“It doesn’t look like we’ll utilize the [Ames] middle school mostly because of their policies,” Bourke said. “We have no way of controlling any alcohol consumption as well as doing background checks, which all falls under some of their state guidelines.”

Bourke said they have identified as many areas as they can for camping in the city and that residents can go to the Discover Ames to become a home host.

Ex-officio Tabitha Etten mentioned that the Boone and Story County fairs overlap with RAGBRAI, but Bourke did not anticipate any traffic conflict.

Phillips said the city would be utilizing temporary traffic signals in addition to other signage.

“We’re planning to use every electronic message board that we have in the city inventory for route messaging and information,” Phillips said.

Additional Measures

The Ames City Council unanimously approved changes to the Downtown and Campustown facade grant programs which include increasing the individual grant award to $23,000 as matching funds and increasing the design services grant to $2,000 for the Downtown program.

At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri said it seemed premature to change the program without hearing feedback first.

“I just have concerns about moving forward with changing a program without feedback from the group of people that are asking us for changes to the program that aren’t necessarily this specific change,” Corrieri said.

Corrieri motioned to have a broad conversation with downtown stakeholders about their priorities and how the city can support development and redevelopment, which was unanimously approved. Ames Director of Housing and Planning Kelly Diekmann said the goal is to provide the feedback to the council in July.

The council also unanimously approved amendments to Ames Plan 2040 that include modifying references to the now expired Urban Fringe Plan while allowing for a future agreement.

Mayor John Haila proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month and as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day.