Boonville City Council approves transfer of Katy Bridge to city

The Boonville City Council has approved the transfer of ownership of the Katy Bridge at Boonville to the city.

Boonville Bridge
Boonville Bridge

Here is KRCG13's coverage of the issue:

By a vote of 7 to 1, Boonville City Council Members approved a transfer of ownership of the historic Katy Railroad Bridge from Union Pacific to the City of Boonville.

An amendment to the ownership agreement will not allow any city tax dollars to pay for the restoration of the 79-year-old Boonville Bridge over the Missouri River.

A non-profit organization called the “Save the Katy Bridge Coalition” has been raising money to preserve the bridge and make it a part of the Katy Trail State Park.

The Boonville Daily News has much more detail about the transfer.

This is the next step in a complicated story involving the Katy Trail, two different railroads, several different governors, and a very tenacious local group of bridge supporters,

MoBikeFed became involved in the issue because removal of the bridge--if not handled correctly in every legal detail--had a very significant potential to threaten the very existence of significant portions of the Katy Trail.

Earlier this spring, MoBikeFed summarized some of the issues and history:

 

The original agreement that created the Katy Trail left ownership of the bridge with the MKT Railroad (later acquired by Union Pacific) but gave the state of Missouri a perpetual right to use the bridge as part of the Katy Trail.  This complex agreement has been described by negotiators as key to making the whole agreement to create the Katy Trail work.  That state at that point could not take over liability for the bridge--essentially the responsibility to demolish and remove it at some future point, an expensive endeavor--so the negotiators solved that problem by leaving ownership of the bridge with the railroad but giving the state the right to use the bridge as part of the trail.
 
The problem began in the early 2000s, when the Coast Guard declared the MKT bridge a hazard to navigation and demanded that it be removed.
 
At first the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) took a position opposing the bridge's removal, saying that removal of the bridge would impinge on their right to use the bridge as part of the Katy Trail.
 
But when Governor Matt Blunt was elected in 2004, DNR reversed its position, writing a letter that stated that DNR was giving up its right to use the bridge for trail use and Union Pacific was welcome to remove the bridge.
 
Jay Nixon, then Missouri Attorney General issued a statement challenging DNR's authority to give up the state's rights in the bridge and asserting that the state still had rights in the bridge.
 
This set off a complicated set of events between the railroad, the state, the City of Boonville, the Coast Guard, the federal Surface Transportation Board (which has authority over railroads) and others. . . . 
The years of legal haggling faded last February as Gov. Nixon stood in Boonville and announced an agreement to preserve the Katy Bridge and provide $22.6 million in stimulus funding for a bridge over the Osage River.
 
More than a year later, the state and Union Pacific both have approved the agreement and await the city's approval.
 
Third Ward Councilman Chris Hombs estimated earlier this week it could be five or six months before the Council votes on the agreement. He said city officials have changed the language of parts of the agreement which deal in whether the city will spend money on the project. If approved by City Council, the revised agreement would still need Union Pacific and the state's approval.

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