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Rock Island Trail

Following is an article that appeared in Jefferson City's News Tribune regarding the Rock Island Trail:

The community of Belle will be the first to have a stretch of the Rock Island Line right-of-way converted to a recreational trail.

Belle residents, city officials and a trail committee headed by Richard Huse have been working on trail development since 2013, according to a news release from the Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc. (MoRIT). Now, a mile of right-of-way through the town will become a trail in the coming months.

"They were awarded a (Recreational Trails Program) grant to build a trail alongside of the rails before Ameren's Missouri Central Railroad (MCRR) was considering donating the corridor to Missouri State Parks," said Greg Harris, MoRIT executive director, noting the RTP grant funds 80 percent of the project with the remaining 20 percent coming from a local match for the construction by city personnel and equipment.

"We asked the Belle Trail Committee, and they quickly agreed to delay construction and amend their plans to build their segment of trail on the rail bed."

The Belle portion of the trail, which is located in Osage and Maries counties north of Rolla, will be built to the specifications of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this winter. The owner of the corridor, a railroad subsidiary of Ameren electric company, will hand the property over to DNR following clearing of the rails under the national Rails-to-Trails Act, according to the news release.

MoRIT helped broker a special agreement with Ameren to transfer interim responsibility for the corridor to the city, speeding up construction a year or more. Harris said Belle plans to renovate its former MFA as a welcome center, with wraparound decking and other inviting spaces.

"This is a wonderful beginning," Harris said. "It means that communities along the corridor can enjoy the benefits of a recreational asset while we continue to work toward development of the entire route."

Deconstruction of the Rock Island Railroad continues in western Missouri, making way for a 144-mile trail that would potentially join Kansas City and St. Louis. Another aspect of the rail corridor moving along toward a recreational trail is the first 47 miles of Rock Island Trail State Park between Pleasant Hill and Windsor. According to Harris, this section of the park will be open in the next several days and will connect Kansas City to the 240-mile Katy Trail State Park and St. Louis.

Eldon is requesting an agreement to be responsible for maintaining the 3 miles of rail corridor and wants to allow its use as a primitive trail, Harris said. In 2012, Eldon residents organized a task force and obtained permission from MCRR to build a trail next to the railroad bed. Volunteers in Eldon removed 110 loads of trash and vegetation from the 3-mile corridor within Eldon city limits in preparation for building a trail, according to the MoRIT website.

"Eldon has been given $150,000 in matching money for the renovation of its former railroad depot to be a welcome center, museum and offices for its chamber of commerce. The depot will be located on the Rock Island Trail at the front door of downtown Eldon and near its community center," Harris said. "Lake Regional Health Center is developing an outpatient care facility next to the trail, and a former manufacturing facility is being renovated as a senior care center. Both of those health care facilities were located to take advantage of the trail as a new community asset for transportation and exercise for their patients."

Preserving the Rock Island Corridor for interim trail use has been a dream of many since the 1990s, when the first attempt to rail bank the corridor was almost successful, according to MoRIT's website. The corridor was sold in 1999 to MCRR, and it was not until 2014 the corridor again became
posted Dec 1 2016 12:53AM - cathy, Jefferson City

Here is the rest of the article about the Rock Island Trail form the Jefferson City News Tribune:

available for possible rail banking.

In 2012, residents in Gerald, Rosebud, Owensville and Bland formed the Meramec Regional Rock Island Coalition to investigate converting approximately 35 miles of the inactive Rock Island Corridor to a walking and biking trail, the MoRIT website said.

MoRIT was formed as a nonprofit organization in 2014.

MCRR filed for abandonment and rail banking with the Surface Transportation Board (STB). In turn, DNR has filed paperwork to indicate willingness to build and manage a recreational trail on the corridor, according to the Missouri State Parks.

The STB has granted permission to MCRR to salvage track and related materials, which began this process during winter of 2015 and estimates it will take about 21/2 years. Once the process is completed, MCRR plans to donate the line to DNR.

There is not currently a timeline for construction, and it will depend on funding. It took 20 years to complete construction on the 240-mile Katy Trail State Park, a similar rail-trail construction.
posted Dec 1 2016 2:47AM - cathy, Jefferson City

Tags: Windsor, Jefferson City, Kansas City, BikeKatyTrail.com, Hiking, Events, Rock Island Trail Modify Tags

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