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Katy Trail Rock Island Spur Comments
Booneville railroad bridge options

I just happened to strike up a conversation with a Union Pacific official last evening. We discussed several railroad-related issues including steam excursions etc. When I brought up the subject of the Katy Trail, specifically my plea to save the bridge over the Missouri River in Booneville (the implications of which are well known to most of you and discussed elsewhere on this site), he was quite firm in his conviction that the Railroad really needs the bridge elsewhere to double track a mainline and it sounded to me like there was no further decision to be made at least from his point of view. Interestingly enough, he did make the comment that the piers would be left, implying that they could be used for another bridge. I have seen proposals to convert the existing bridge into a bike/pedestrian bridge but am curious about the concept of building a new one on the existing piers. Has anyone seen or heard of any plans for such? If such a bridge was a lighter weight bridge for bike/pedestrians only, would that violate the intact rail corridor concept that seems to be a key legal point for the Katy? Or does the presence of the piers (under a lighter bridge)and thus the possibility of rebuilding a railroad bridge preserve the corridor? Anyway, I probably don’t have any new information here and this likely sounds boring but since there is a chance the trail could go away, I was wondering if anyone has any insight into this.
posted Feb 1 2006 10:59AM - MLH, Overland Park

The KATY Trail...boring....not at all. If I read the missive correctly Union Pacific wants to use the bridge as a railroad bridge? If so how about a rail WITH Trail or in other words, will a bike pathway/walkway be an impossibility on the existing bridge? A new bridge on existing pilings, well the first thing I think of is river barge traffic...will this be an issue with a new bridge?? The Pfluger Bridge in Austin, TX. going across the Colorado River and which is a dedicated "hike & bike" bridge cost 7 mil...it was a bit more I believe than was needed, but now we're talking going across the Mighty Mo...one has to ask where is this money coming from?? If UP isn't going to use the current bridge....why demolish it?? What am I missing here. Good on ya MLH for engaging in a conversation about such a sensitive subject with a principle personality...you must have superb people skills. Mark of the Dalton Boys
posted Feb 1 2006 1:10PM - The Dalton Boys, Austin, TX/Columbia, MO.

Mark, the problem is that the railroad wants to remove the bridge structure from its current location, and re-use at a different point somewhere downstream (i.e. take it off the pilings and, I suppose, float it down to its new home). They determined that relocating the bridge structure would cost the railroad less than building a new bridge at the new site. Unfortunately moving the bridge would create a break in the old "banked" railroad right-of-way that serves as the legal basis for the Katy Trail. Without a doubt, this would lead to legal challenges from some of the landowners along the trail who fought the trail's existence in the first place. It really could spell the end of the Katy Trail.

MLH's idea about re-using these supports for a new bridge is interesting. It would probably cost more to build a new lighter bridge than to refurbish the existing one for pedestrian/bike use, but I suppose that's the next option if the railroad and governor win this battle. As MLH said, the key question is whether or not a new bridge would fit into the "railbank" that the trail is based on. I'm sure there will be lawyers arguing that it does not.

For anyone who wants more details on this issue, probably the best source of info is the Missouri Bike Federation website.
posted Feb 1 2006 1:29PM - Ray (webmaster)

I supposed I should be partially grateful that a bridge is getting "recycled"... god knows what goes on in the corporate mind of Union Pacific. I was unaware of their desire to put the bridge somewhere else, but rather thought they wanted to tear down/demolish the current bridge. I see the point now and agree with the likely premise that legal question could be raised to the detriment of the KATY. The longest rail trail in the nation deserves the best of considerations, and being roughly 85 miles or so from the MO./KS. border certainly deserves to be finished and "border to border" status achieved. Ugh, I'm getting a headache. The idea of using existing piles is indeed noteworthy, and I would think (not being an engineer) that a cost effective plan for a bridge could be do-able. Thanks for the clarification...Thanks for all that you do...Mark of the Dalton Boys
posted Feb 1 2006 2:55PM - The Dalton Boys, Austin, TX/Columbia, MO.

I can't believe what a dunce I am for not thinking about the barge traffic, hence the current bridge being left in the raised position. Good thinking Mark. That brings up the next question: if the current bridge was modified for the Katy Trail, how would the up down thing work? Is it controlled via radio by the barge captain? Could someone be riding or walking (or napping) on the middle section when a barge comes? That sounds like a fun ride. Are modern barges lower in profile and what are the clearances needed? Obviously the existing piers would have to be extended for a new pedestrian bridge ($$$). The latter would have to humped like the highway bridge which would rule out future rail use.
posted Feb 1 2006 3:34PM - MLH, Overland Park

In the proposals that I've heard, the middle section would be left permanently in the raised position. So conversion to a bike/ped bridge would involve building some kind of ramps up to the elevated section. Sounds pretty cool, and it would provide a nice little hill workout on an otherwise flat trail!
posted Feb 1 2006 3:40PM - Ray (webmaster)

Thanks for the clarification Ray. As I look at my photo of the railroad bridge taken from the highway bridge. The middle section isn't actually raised that far currently and thus those ramps wouldn't be that severe (but I may have to get a third chain ring anyway, egad). And if that's all the height needed for a pedestrian/bike bridge, the piers wouldn't have to be extended that far after all (but still $$$ for the whole project)
posted Feb 1 2006 3:59PM - MLH, Overland Park

For anyone else who may be reading this thread, here's what it looks like

MKT Boonville Bridge
posted Feb 1 2006 4:04PM - Ray (webmaster)

Permanently raised middle section kind of like the Florida Highway that goes all the way to Key West. Those "humps" accomodate seagoing cargo & container ships....why would it not accomodate lower profile barges with tugs??? That would be something...boy!! Mark of the Dalton Boys
posted Feb 1 2006 4:16PM - The Dalton Boys, Austin, TX/Columbia, MO.

FWIW, UP wants to use this bridge to create a double line for the Osage River crossing about 8 miles east of Jefferson City.

Ironically, if the KATY survives the anticipated legal challenge of moving this bridge, it will enhance the trail's popularity. The completion of UPs double line across the state of Missouri will allow Amtrak to finally run on schedule.
posted Feb 8 2006 12:37PM - Nails

Union Pacific saves $10 million by moving this bridge. But at what cost?

The people who use the KATY Trail, and the people who have invested their lives into building businesses along the trail stand to lose what they love.

If the articles I've read, I dont remember seeing a time line on when UP wanted to move the bridge, does anyone have that info?
posted Feb 8 2006 3:33PM - Big Rick, St. Charles, Mo.

If the superstructure is moved, expect the piers to come down. The Corps of Engineers has done the same at several river crossings including the Chouteau (sp?) in Kansas City and MO-115 in St. Charles. The opening between these piers is too small for their liking on a navigable river.
posted Feb 9 2006 7:13AM - Nails

Is there any update on the status of the bridge? I haven't heard anything in quite some time.
posted Jan 8 2010 9:45AM - Ben, Imperial & Rolla, MO

Tags: Jefferson City, St Charles, Boonville, Mighty Mo Canoe Rental, Kansas City, Amtrak, Hiking, Running Modify Tags

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