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MKT Boonville Bridge

After a long battle to save this bridge from destruction, the issue is finally resolved.  Perhaps some day the Katy Trail will actually use this bridge to cross the Missouri River at Boonville.

For the most current information, visit the Katy Bridge Friends website.

MKT Boonville Bridge
Boonville Katy Bridge Source: Boonville Daily News

From ABC 17 News, Columbia:

Historic MKT Bridge at Boonville to be Preserved
Agreement between Missouri an Union Pacific Reached in Principle.
Posted on Thu Feb 4, 2010

Governor Jay Nixon today announced that Missouri has reached an agreement-in-principle with Union Pacific Railroad that will preserve the historic MKT railroad lift bridge over the Missouri River at Boonville.

In the agreement Union Pacific will turn ownership over to Boonville, in return the state will use $23 million in stimulus funds to build a bridge over the Osage River near Jefferson City for Union Pacific to use. Union Pacific will also help with the cost, about $6 million.

Nixon made the announcement this afternoon in Boonville at the Katy Trail Depot.

City officials and the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition have led efforts to preserve the landmark bridge, which is part of the rail corridor that forms the 225-mile long Katy Trail State Park.

The bridge was constructed in 1932; at the time, its 400-foot long central lift span was the longest in the country.

“This is an exciting day not only for the people of Boonville, but also for recreation enthusiasts and for those want to preserve a piece of Missouri and railroad history,” Gov. Nixon said. “I want to thank the city, the coalition and Union Pacific for making this possible to keep this historic bridge in place, and I look forward to seeing plans for developing the bridge as a tourism centerpiece for Boonville come to fruition.”

The Governor said that with the announcement of the bridge transfer, the Missouri Division of State Parks was prepared to discuss with Boonville officials how the bridge might eventually be incorporated into use by bicyclists, joggers and hikers using the nearby Katy Trail.

As far as when those plans will start or how much it will cost, we're told it's still up in the air. The city feels it could cost anywhere between $2 million to $4 million for the upgrades.

Still they tell us the money will be worth it as they will gain revenue from the tourists that attracted to the bridge.

Boonville is one of the most populous communities along the trail, which is used by more than 300,000 people each year.

Past news stories, to explain the situation before the bridge was saved:
This started off as an issue of whether the Katy Trail might make use of an historic old bridge in Boonville.  But whether the Katy Trail uses the bridge or not is no longer the key issue.  What's at issue is the fact that due to a legal technicality, giving this bridge to the railroad could jeopardize the entire Katy Trail.

First some background: If you've ridden the Katy Trail across the Missouri River in Boonville, you've undoubtedly noticed the unusual bridge just upstream.  This is the old MKT railroad bridge, which is no longer used by the railroad - it's part of the former MKT rail line that is now the trail.  When the trail was built in Boonville, it was routed up to the hwy 40 bridge to cross the Missouri River. 

Business and civic leaders hope to renovate the bridge and incorporate it into the Katy Trail.  But the railroad wants to dismantle the bridge. 

Governor Blunt decided to let the railroad have the bridge.  The problem is that once the railroad demolishes the bridge, the old railroad right-of-way will no longer be intact.  This may nullify the legal basis for the entire Katy Trail, making it possible for adjoining landowners to claim portions of the trail as their property, and close those sections of the trail. 

This article offers an excellent explanation of why this move literally threatens the entire Katy Trail

Want to help? Please visit Save the Katy Bridge Coalition to make a donation.

Useful/Related Resources
  • Michael J Smith analyzed the legal aspects of landowner challenges to rail-trails in Missouri, particularly regarding the Katy Trail.  Mr Smith, now an attorney, wrote the paper in the fall 0f 2005 for his Public Land Law class when he was still a law student.  The work and opinions are entirely his own. 
    The paper is in MS-Word format: Rails-to-trails: The Missouri Experience (just click CANCEL if your browser asks for authentication information).
  • In October 2007, the Missouri Court of Appeals issued a ruling that says the state does not have a property interest in the bridge.  Michael Smith again analyzed the situation in light of this ruling: Boonville Bridge Analysis November 2007 The work and opinions are entirely his own.
  • Boonville, Missouri information
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