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GC from Columbia, Mo. on 11/28/2007 9:49:51 AM:
Ameren settles Taum Sauk case
By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD
AP Business Writer
ST. LOUIS — Ameren Corp. reached a settlement agreement that will require the utility to pay roughly $180 million in cash and property to compensate for damages resulting from the Taum Sauk reservoir collapse, according to a signed copy of the settlement obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday.
Ameren is expected to announce the settlement soon, bringing an end to months of negotiations between the St. Louis-based company and three state agencies.

The settlement includes an agreement for Ameren to lease 46 miles of its Rock Island Railroad to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to connect the Katy Trail from the town of Windsor to Pleasant Hill.

 
Trek on 11/28/2007 11:00:03 AM:
That is great news. Hopefully Ameren and the DNR will move expediently to turn this news into reality.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/missouristatenews/story/CFD659E4513A957C862573A1005677E7?OpenDocument


 
Katy Trail Fan from Farmington on 11/28/2007 12:46:30 PM:
Awesome! I hope the family that got swept away in the Taum Sauk collapse got a little greenage their way, too. But I'm glad a settlement has been reached, even if it means AmerenUE will probably be passing along the cost to us. Got to protect the pay of these guys: http://www.ameren.com/AboutUs/ADC_AU_SeniorMgmtBios.asp
But I'm a lover of the Katy Trail, and I'm glad to see it benefitted from the settlement. It's a boon to our state's economy, a special gift Missouri has that doesn't receive enough press.

 
Ray (webmaster) on 11/28/2007 3:39:07 PM:
This is a huge milestone. I look forward to the day when I can rework the map at the top of this webpage!

Here's more info from the Missouri Bike Federation - the Bike Fed has been instrumental in building grassroots support for getting Ameren to include the railbed in the settlement. This is so cool!

Today the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Attorney General's Office, and AmerenUE announced an agreement regarding the Taum Sauk dam disaster.

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

Included in the settlement is the agreement to give DNR a "trail license agreement" to build a trail on the portion of the Rock Island corridor needed to connect the Katy Trail to Pleasant Hill, Missouri. Pleasant Hill is on the edge of the 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 is about 46 miles.

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.


...continued...

 
Ray (webmaster) on 11/28/2007 3:40:03 PM:
...continued from previous note...


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.

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.

MoBikeFed and other groups across the state have been working over a period of several years to generate over 5000 email, 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 our political leaders knew there is strong community support for the trail connection.

 
steve k from saint louis on 11/28/2007 3:55:56 PM:
That is good news. That will be an interesting stretch though I believe it is rather isolated from Windsor to Pleasant Hill to the point where it may have the least amount of services than any other comparible 46 mile stretch along the trail. It will be interesting to see if DNR will throw us a bone and tell us when it will be opened.

Also, what is the deal with the trail to Machens. I have not tried it in awhile, but someone told me the other day that part of it is still weeds. I thought it was supposed to be opened(ie. w/o weeds) in 2007.


 
Ray (webmaster) on 11/28/2007 5:14:57 PM:
Steve, good point about it being a more isolated area. From what I can tell, it looks like it will run through the following towns (none of which I know anything about):

- Bowen
- Leeton, population 619
- Chilhowee, population 329
- Denton
- Medford
... and then a long distance from Medford to Pleasant Hill.

Google shows a Casey's in Leeton, and in Chilhowee there's a grocery/c-store, gas station, restaurant, and a couple of bar-&-grills.

Leeton is maybe 12 miles west of Windsor. And then another 10 or so from Leeton to Chilhowee. So the eastern half of the extension is pretty well covered. Hopefully someone will see an opportunity to provide services on the western half.

 
steve k from saint louis on 11/28/2007 5:16:20 PM:
Yes, "rails-with-trails" will be a lot more difficult and expensive to construct-not to mention a lot longer time frame.

 
Ray (webmaster) on 11/28/2007 5:23:24 PM:
Regarding Machens, there is one section that was reclaimed by the river in the big flood 15 years ago. The DNR has been trying to negotiate an easement that would let the trail run along a levee in this area, but apparently can't come to terms with the property owner. There have been rumors a few different times these past couple of years, that things were about to get moving. But we still seem stuck in limbo for now....

 
Anonymous on 12/1/2007 11:32:19 PM:
FRom what I hear, on the Machens part, a deal was reached between State Parks and the other land owners (the North County Consolidated Levee District) the state agreed to pay the levee district $10,000 dollars a year, forever, to go around the area washed out by the 1995 flood. It is a ridiculous deal, the money can be considered "rent" so that State Parks can build approximately 1500 ft of trail on unused levee district property and go around what is called the "blew hole". They call it the "blew hole" because that is where the levee blew out. Once the deal was reached State Parks was ready to complete the trail to Machens. Then the legislature did not pass the State Parks Capitol Improvement Budget that included the money to complete the trail to Machens. At that point everything got put on hold. It is out of State Parks hands. Everything could be on hold until the next budget cycle, which will get approved in spring 2008.

 
DougK from Troy on 12/2/2007 12:32:23 PM:
I think it's great that there's more trail to hike. Just of curiosity: What happens to the Clinton to Windsor leg?

 
Anonymous on 12/3/2007 9:45:26 AM:
What happens to the Clinton to Windsor leg?.....Probably the same thing that is happening with it today. What is in question about it???

 
DougK from Troy on 12/7/2007 4:42:40 PM:
Just wondered how many people would still hike/bike that leg after the new trail is complete.

 
GC from Columbia, Mo. on 12/7/2007 5:22:04 PM:
I think I am in a minority on the site, but I sorta liked the Clinton to Windsor leg. Maybe it was just because I was still fresh when I hiked it.

 
steve k from saint louis on 1/28/2008 10:24:18 AM:
FYI, intesting to read the "criticisms" of the Ameren settlement regarding the Rock Island line.

http://www.dnr.mo.gov/taumsauk/index.html

Unfortunately, I believe the critics are essentially correct with their main point here that "Rails with Trails" will be a lot more expensive to construct. I believe that the $1 million/mile figure for the construction cost is in the ballpark, so I hope noone is holding their breath waiting for this to be built.


 
Big Foot from Henry County on 5/15/2008 1:46:56 PM:
Rock Island Rail Photo's:

http://www.marc.org/Community/RockIslandVisual.htm

If these photos represent the current condition of the Rock Island line between Windsor and Pleasant Hill, how can Ameren claim that this line needs to remain "active"? Obviously bikes cannot be utilized for this line(in this condition), however since there are no trains either, and this agreement has been made, can I hike it without being arrested? (or at least someone trying to arrest me)

 
gc from Columbia, Mo. on 5/16/2008 10:24:32 AM:
I agree, Big.
I have never seen the whole route, but I do recall seeing the overgrown tracks heading out of Windsor. Not exactly an active line at the present, or it appears anytime in the last few decades. I would think it would be wildly expensive to restore the route to an active rail line.

 
Big Foot from Henry County on 6/23/2008 2:34:08 PM:
<
If things work out, Missouri’s cross-state hiking-biking path will reach the Kansas City area three years from now, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. That’s figuring in time to schmooze adjoining landowners and to plan and build a trail alongside the former Rock Island tracks between Windsor and Pleasant Hill.

Finally.

It looked as if it would never happen. But the way was cleared, as you’ll recall, by last year’s settlement in the Taum Sauk dam disaster lawsuit.

Next biggest deal: Missouri lawmakers approved funding, despite fears they’d find another way to blow the $18 million set aside for trail development.
MoBikeFed has kept in contact with DNR officials throughout the legislative session, and they indicate that they feel they can solve all potential problems--trail design, property rights issues, road and stream crossings, and all the rest--within the $18 million budget that is alloted for the project and within the project 3-year time frame.

The trail from Windsor to Pleasant Hill will be a trails with rails project, with the trail being placed alongside the existing railroad track so that the railroad can (potentially) be reactivated at some future time.


As Hendricks outlines in the article, the approach of the trail to the Kansas City metro area has put local efforts to connect to the trailhead in Pleasant Hill into overdrive.

So soon after the trail reaches Pleasant Hill--which should be some time in 2011 if DNR's timeline holds--we may see connections made to nearby communities like Lee's Summit, Kansas City, and even Johnson County Kansas.

In addition, bicycle/pedestrian crossings of the Missouri River in Kansas City are underway and at least one crossing should be online by 2011.>>

 
Anonymous on 6/23/2008 6:21:19 PM:
It kills me that river crossings are deemed important when the Katy Trail is involved even though thousands of us in Missouri use bicycles everyday for transportation.

Quick, someone tell me how many Mo river crossings currently have bike/ped access on them in Kansas City?

I guess recreational cyclists are just more important?

 
kressebigcreek from Gunn City on 7/23/2008 1:52:52 PM:
I was wondering if anyone knows exactly where the trail will be routed around Gunn City. We have an interesting history, The 1872 Gunn City Massacre on the rr --- google it! We have mushroom hunted on many stretches of old track all around this area, and it will take a massive construction effort!It is ALL a HUGE mess! It has been so many years since it has been used by trains, it is very grown up with brush and trees. Alot of the areas are in bottom ground around Big Creek that floods. (I guess they'll just close it if it's under water)I don't know why the RR still wants to claim usage of these stretches of track after so many years. Maybe the RR transport will make a comeback since gas prices are so high and it is driving truckers out of business.
By the way- how do you get in on the bidding for the construction? Have a good day!

 
stevie from saint louis on 7/24/2008 10:48:36 AM:
The plan is to go north or south of the existing trail line, which will be left in place as this will be a “trail with rails”. I believe the standard is to be at least 25’ off the rail centerline with the bike trail. Also, just to be clear, the line we are talking about here is east of Gunn City, and you still would have to take a slight detour to pass through Gunn City according to Google Earth.

And yes, this rail line is an overgrown with weeds, and would need a complete rebuild to get it active again. I would guess AmerenUE has a legitimate, near term reason for holding onto it, but I have never heard what it is. Obviously, it would be a less expensive to build the bike trail over the old rail bed as some of the infrastructure of the old rail line could be incorporated into the bike trail (like the existing bridges and culverts on the current Katy are).

As far as getting in on the bidding, you would have to own a road or highway construction company already as we are talking about a several million dollar project here. I also don’t believe that DNR received enough money from Ameren ($18 million) to do this project all the way from Windsor to Pleasant Hill, so it will be interesting to see what they actually do with the money they received in the settlement.

 
stevie from Saint Louis on 12/8/2008 4:21:08 PM:
Couple of older articles:

http://archive.columbiatribune.com/2008/feb/20080201comm001.asp

Katy Trail’s KC extension very much in doubt by Ken MIDKIFF

a couple of quotes:

"The $18 million that AmerenUE would give to the state to develop the trail is not nearly enough. The Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimate $1 million per mile, and the extension is about 45 miles long."

"Because the Rails to Trails Act does not apply, the state must get the permission of hundreds of landowners to construct the trail. The landowners granted easements for a railroad, not a trail. Although the Department of Natural Resources/state parks is granted the statutory authority to exercise eminent domain, it is unwilling - rightly so - to use this legal option. If even one of the landowners refuses to grant an easement, the matter would end up in court for perhaps years."

Midkiff strays from truth on plans for trail by Doyle Childers

http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Feb/20080210Comm006.asp

"The department will work cooperatively with all landowners with property along the trail. If they are due compensation for a trail license on their property, we will gladly pay them. Midkiff sees problems with our landowner neighbors. We do not see it that way and will work with them and do what is necessary to obtain access to the right of way."

"Finally, Midkiff suggests we do not have enough money to build the trail because, he says, the Army Corps of Engineers indicates it will take $1 million a mile. We are not aware of any estimate by the Corps of Engineers, so I question where Midkiff got that figure. We are confident we can build the trail for the $18 million, or we would not have agreed to this element in the settlement."





 
stevie from Saint Louis on 12/8/2008 4:31:47 PM:
I was looking around today for any recent commentary on the cost or updates on this extension, though this was old I thought this was interesting. I was thinking that if DNR needed more funds for this extension, then they should try to somehow climb on the Obama’s stimulus public works gravy train.

 
Paul Toigo on 12/10/2008 9:22:19 PM:
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

 
Anonymous on 12/12/2008 10:39:20 PM:
Oh NO..

I just had a bad dream, that I am going to have to go another 46 miles next summer in order to brag to my friends that this tired old body once again rode the Katy trail from start to finish. I am going to bed now and dream that the new part is all paved, indoors, air conditioned and downhill.

 
Mike from STL on 8/28/2011 11:21:03 PM:
I hope one day that the line can be reopened for freight train usage....