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Missouri takes over old rail path to build Rock Island Trail

Rock Island corridor.png
Posted at 12:32 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 13:32:41-05

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new cross-state recreational trail is a step closer to completion after Missouri announced on Tuesday that it was accepting ownership of an old railroad corridor that can be converted into a park.

The Department of Natural Resources plans to develop a public trail along the 144 miles of the former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad corridor, which stretches eastward from Windsor to Beaufort. The property was donated to the state by the Missouri Central Railroad Co., a subsidiary of the utility company Ameren Missouri.

The state already owns and operates a 47-mile trail on the Rock Island Spur, which runs eastward from Pleasant Hill to Windsor, where it connects with the Katy Trail. The state will operate both trails under a federal law that allows out-of-service rail corridors to be used as public trails - though they would have to be reconverted to rail lines if ever needed again for that purpose.

"Much like the Katy Trail, we expect the Rock Island Trail to help grow local economies and small businesses, create jobs, and provide Missouri with another great outdoor recreational resource," Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement.

The Rock Island Trail has been in the works for years. The state was able to accept the property, in part, because of funding from the federal government, grants and private donations. The Department of Natural Resources said the trail's development will occur in sections over several years.