Rails To Trails Conservancy
Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity
shop   |   eNews   |   find a trail
Share this page:
Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail

On July 28, the chance to save a 145-mile segment of inactive rail corridor dropped out of the sky. The opportunity to preserve an intact corridor of this length was more common 20 years ago, but rarely happens today.

The corridor in question-which hasn't seen train traffic in about 30 years-is a segment of the old Rock Island Line that run from Windsor to Beaufort, Mo. What makes this doubly exciting is that this corridor intersects the 237-mile Katy Trail in Windsor. With the successful preservation of this corridor, it would not be hard to imagine a world-class trail system of more than 400 miles that would span the entire state of Missouri, connecting St. Louis and Kansas City.

This corridor has long been on our radar. For almost two years, RTC staffer Eric Oberg has been providing technical assistance to local activists who are intent upon turning this unused rail line into a trail. While we were aware that Ameren, the electric utility company that owns the corridor, was soliciting bids for its purchase, we thought a local nonprofit organization would submit the bid.

Help Make It Happen: Sign the Missouri Bike Federation's petition urging Governor Nixon and the owners of the corridor to allow the creation of a rail-trail.

On Monday afternoon, we found out that wasn't going to happen. If we didn't quickly step in to submit an offer to purchase, the corridor would likely be lost for both trail development and the possible future reactivation of the line for rail service. Long story short-we kicked into high gear and submitted a bid just before the deadline on Thursday.

I will admit some trepidation when I signed an eight-figure offer to purchase a piece of real estate, particularly when such an action wasn't even remotely contemplated when I arrived at work on Monday morning. (It is important to note that RTC is not shouldering the financial burden of the purchase alone; our pockets aren't that deep. Rather, the deal is structured so that RTC will be working with two private sector partners to secure the purchase the corridor.)

It's impossible to know if our bid will be accepted. But if all goes as planned, a multi-step transaction will unfold over several months. The critical step in that process will be ensuring that the corridor has been "railbanked" to preserve it intact as a transportation asset for the American people. With that step completed, the sale would finalize, and at the moment that we own the property we would donate it to Missouri State Parks for development as a trail. And it could be spectacular!

I am proud of the role that RTC has played in this effort, particularly Andrea Ferster, our general counsel, who is among a handful of national experts on the arcane details of railroad real estate law.

But if the future includes a ribbon cutting on a fantastic new trail, the bulk of the credit will go to those local activists who envisioned all the many benefits that such a trail would bring to their communities. So it is with gratitude that we look forward to a long partnership with Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc. (MoRIT), the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation and Missouri State Parks to make the vision of such a trail a tangible reality.

Help Support this Great Effort
Sign our petition urging the owners of the corridor to allow the creation of a rail-trail. Sign Now >>

Keith Laughlin is the President of RTC. Prior to joining the organization in 2001, he was the associate director for sustainable development on the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, the continuation of a career focused on environmental conservation and livable communities. In recent years, Keith has guided RTC's effort to become a national leader in the trails and greenways movement.


Posted Mon, Aug 4 2014 3:06 PM by Jake Lynch
Filed under: ,

Comments

Rick Tharp wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Tue, Aug 5 2014 11:34 AM

We need more bike trails in Missouri

James P. Wyman [Jim] wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Tue, Aug 5 2014 9:07 PM

Thanks Keith and RTC for stepping up for all of us in the bike community.  This rail bank is almost in my backyard, so I am looking forward to the next step.I have been a RTC member for many years and have enjoyed some great trips with RTC. Jim

Leon Herring wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Tue, Aug 5 2014 9:12 PM

I have enjoyed the the Katy Trail with scouting for years. This addition would be enjoyed by scouts for next 100 years. I support this addition to Missouri parks trails.

Joane O'Connor wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 6 2014 2:26 PM

As a member of RTC and frequent user of the MKT, I encourage saving the 145 mile segment of the rail corridor between Windsor and Beaufort, MO.

With friends from Illinois and Virginia, I have biked the entire MKT from Clinton to St. Charles.  Last week while biking on the trail, we met three young men. 18 & 19 years old, from England who were crossing the country from San Francisco to the East Coast.

Our trail brings in folks from other states, as well as from other countries.  A couple of weeks ago, I met a couple from New Mexico who quit their jobs, drove to Seattle, sold their car and are now on their way across the country and used the MKT along the way.

Scott wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 6 2014 5:19 PM

I signed the petition and added my own comment that the Katy Trail is a model for trails across the rest of the nation.  Having bicycled the Katy five times, eating at restaurants, buying things at stores, and paying for lodging and camping each trip, trails are good for communities.  Neighbors' fears of having bicyclists pedal near their homes are ill-founded.  I can't imagine better people to have pass by your home than somebody who loves nature and would spend their vacation (and money) to exercise their way hundreds of miles across the heartland.

Christian H. Homeier wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 6 2014 5:23 PM

The plan for the builders of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad following the path of Lewis & Clark up the Missouri River. The Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was "K-T" which soon became the affectionate "Katy".

Today, the Katy Trail is a Missouri 240-mile rail-trail gem, the longest rail-trail in the country.

In September 6 to September 13, 2014 six of us "OLDER" bikers from Springfield, Il are doing a 450 mile bicycle trip, using the complete Katy Trail going from Springfield, IL to Springfield, MO.  Adding the 145 additional Rail-to-Trail would bring many, many bikers throughout the US to ride, what will become the best bicycle trail in the US.

Glenn Maze wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 6 2014 9:25 PM

Trails like this are destination rides that bring people like me to their state as I have done in 25 states so far going border to border on trails only. This trail will help get people E-waste on trails only in 50 yrs. Way to go Kieth!

Larry Estes wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Thu, Aug 7 2014 4:09 PM

The addition of this corridor to the Katy will trully make missouri a role model for rail to trails developement. I can't urge all the communities along the route  enough to get on board with an opportunity to increase growth in their town.

Steve Flier wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Sat, Aug 9 2014 4:12 PM

Very nice, but why no map showing the new trail?

Paul Rakus wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Sat, Aug 9 2014 6:40 PM

I biked the entire Katy Trail in 2011 and look forward to coming to Missouri for cycle touring again as soon as the new trail opens. Kudos on striking quickly at a rare opportunity to connect this growing trail network to Kansas City. Best of luck!

Alan F. Black wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Tue, Aug 12 2014 3:40 PM

Though I live in Seattle I am pleased that there is a chance of putting the Katy Trail proposal together.  I am a long-time supporter of the RTC.

Lori S. wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 13 2014 11:56 AM

Thank you! I am a beginner cyclist with great ambitions and happy to support trails. I live in Overland Park and the existing trails here are wonderful -- but a link into Missouri and even more trails? I could retire on my bicycle sometime! Best wishes.

John Halonen wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 13 2014 12:29 PM

Best of luck. Baseball in St Louis, followed by 400 miles of biking and then Baseball again in Kansas City. Gotta LUV it.

William Cones wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 13 2014 9:59 PM

I strongly support the lasting legacy of a cross state trail on the Rock Island Railroad corridor,My family enjoys the opportunity to take vacations that allow us to hike and bike safely,we have enjoyed the Silver Comet trail,in Georgia,we will vacation in Clearwater Florida,only to take advantage of the Pinellas trail,we believe you can walk and bike to good health.These trails in Missouri will become valuable assets to all Americans for an amazing vacation destination.

William Cones wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Wed, Aug 13 2014 10:00 PM

I strongly support the lasting legacy of a cross state trail on the Rock Island Railroad corridor,My family enjoys the opportunity to take vacations that allow us to hike and bike safely,we have enjoyed the Silver Comet trail,in Georgia,we will vacation in Clearwater Florida,only to take advantage of the Pinellas trail,we believe you can walk and bike to good health.These trails in Missouri will become valuable assets to all Americans for an amazing vacation destination.

Eric Shropshire wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Thu, Aug 14 2014 7:31 AM

I'm a biker of seven years now and enjoy the safe trails in Maryland. I ride the c&o canal towe path and western Maryland rails to trails, also have ridden on the great Allegany passage in Pa. Wonderful way to exercise to good health. My desire is to take the opportunity to ride other trails in other states such as the possible trail in question (R.I.R.c.) go for it.

                        Eric Shropshire

Ann Koenig wrote re: Opportunity Knocks in Missouri: RTC Steps In to Save 145-Mile Connection to Katy Trail
on Tue, Aug 19 2014 12:02 PM

Besides signing the petition, what can a local person do to assist with getting this trail developed? I live in Columbia, MO and grew up in a town along the Rock Island RR. How can I help?

Add a Comment

(required )
(optional )
(required )  
Remember Me?
 

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696