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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Katy Trail Connection

On Wednesday an event that the Missouri Bicycle Federation, bicycling and trails groups, and thousands of individuals across Missouri have been working hard to achieve for many years came to fruition with an agreement to "complete the Katy Trail" by connecting it to the Kansas City metro area.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Attorney General's Office, and the electric utility AmerenUE announced a settlement regarding the Taum Sauk dam disaster Wednesday,

The settlement includes about $180 million in reparation payments from Ameren.

Included in the settlement is a "trail use agreement" and $18 million that will allow DNR to build the Katy Trail Connection to Kansas City and will pay a good part of the expense of building the trail connection.

"Our thanks go to Governor (Matt) Blunt, Attorney General Jay Nixon, and DNR Director Doyle Childers for working together to make sure the Katy Trail Connection was included in the Ameren agreement," said Dr. Brent Hugh, president of the Missouri Bicycle Federation. "Political differences made the negotiations rocky at times, but all sides were able to see the benefit of the Katy Trail connection for all Missourians and, in the end, all sides had to work together to make it happen.

"All involved can consider the Katy Trail Connection to be an important part of their legacy--a new 46-mile long state park that will be enjoyed by many millions of citizens for decades and centuries to come," he said.

Here's some details about the connection provided by the federation:
  • The Katy Trail connection will be built on the Rock Island railroadcorridor between Windsor and Pleasant Hill. Pleasant Hill is on the edge ofthe Kansas City metropolitan area. (Union Pacific owns the Rock Island line from From Pleasant Hill on in to Kansas City, and plans are already underway to connect the trail through Lee's Summit and eventually to downtown Kansas City via alternate routes.)
  • The portion of the Rock Island corridor that will be used for the trail isabout 46 miles. Putting this together with the 'Machens extension' on theeast end (about 11 miles), this will increase the total size of thecomplete Katy Rail-Trail network to approximately 282 miles.
  • The Rock Island portion of the trail will be a "rails-with-trails" project--the trail will be built in the railroad right-of-way alongside the railroad tracks so that the railroad can still use the corridor in the future. Building the Katy Trail Connection alongside the existing track will be relatively expensive compared with building a trail on the railbed, as the rest of the Katy Trail and most rail-trails are. Much grading and foundation work must be done, and bridges and underpasses built alongside existing railroad bridges and underpasses.
  • However, the agreement includes $18 million from Ameren to assist in construction expenses. Apparently this is not enough to completely construct the 46-mile segment and additional funds will be needed--either from the Missouri General Assembly or from other sources.
  • The state also receives first right of refusal for purchase of the railroad corridor if Ameren ever decides to sell it.
Here's some more links about the Katy Trail Connection

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