If there is one stand-out in the rail-trail world, it may be
225-mile Katy Trail—the longest rail-trail in the country and a hugely
popular destination for trail tourists around the world.
On Thursday, February 4, Katy
Trail lovers had one more reason to
laud their favorite trail as Missouri
Governor Jay Nixon announced a plan to save the iconic "Boonville Bridge,"
a 400-foot-long, steel lift bridge on the MKT railroad corridor in Boonville, Mo.
Once retrofitted, the bridge would seamlessly—and uniquely—connect the Katy Trail
on either side of the Missouri River.
bridge, owned by Union Pacific, has been the subject of much debate and
contention since the last train crossed its tracks in 1986. Union Pacific
intended to dismantle the bridge and reuse its steel to create a railroad
crossing on the Osage River. The Save the Katy Bridge coalition has
long-fought this action, citing the significant tourism and recreation revenue
the Katy Trail generates, as well as the
historical importance of the Boonville structure.
Gov. Nixon's proposal would give federal Recovery Act funds
to Union Pacific to help construct the Osage River bridge, while Union Pacific
would transfer ownership of the historic bridge to the city of Boonville.
We at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), long-time
supporters of the Katy
Trail, applaud this
preservation progress. In 2008, during a trip to Jefferson City, Mo.,
to induct the Katy
Trail into RTC's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, RTC President Keith Laughlin and
staff visited Boonville to see the bridge first-hand. We were awed by its
Congratulations to the coalition, Gov. Nixon and all the Katy Trail
supporters who never gave up on preserving this piece of railroad history.
Top right: The Boonville Bridge extends across the Missouri River and would connect the Katy Trail on the north and south banks.
Bottom left: A view of the Boonville Bridge from the south side of the Missouri River. (RTC/Jennifer Kaleba)