|The Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Attorney General's Office, and AmerenUE announced a settlement on November 28, 2007, regarding reparations for the Taum Sauk Dam disaster, that has satisfied the Missouri Bicycle Federation, bicycling and trails groups, and thousands of individuals across Missouri. They have have been rewarded with what they have been working hard to achieve for many years--an agreement to assist in completing the Katy Trail by connecting it to the Kansas City metro area.
Included in the nearly $180 million settlement is a "Trail Use Agreement," an estimated $18 million that will pay a good part of the DNR's expense of building the trail connection. However, completion might be delayed by the need for additional funding--either from the Missouri General Assembly or from other sources.
"Our thanks go to Governor 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, executive director of the MoBikeFed. "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."
MoBikeFed and other groups across the state have been working over a period of several years to generate over 5000 e-mail, mail, and phone messages in support of the Katy Trail Connection, as well as numerous resolutions and letters of support from cities, counties, parks departments, community organizations, and other agencies, insuring that Missouri's political leaders knew there was strong community support for the trail connection.
The Katy Trail connection will be built on the Rock Island railroad corridor between Windsor and Pleasant Hill, on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area. (Union Pacific owns the Rock Island line from From Pleasant Hill 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.)
Putting the 46-mile portion of the Rock Island corridor that will be used for the trail together with the approximate 11-mile 'Machens extension' on the east end will increase the total size of the 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. This will be a relatively expensive procedure 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 must be built alongside existing railroad bridges and underpasses. The state also will receive first right of refusal for purchase of the railroad corridor if Ameren ever decides to sell it.