Plans for Rock Island bike path prompt small-town entrepreneurship | Missouri Business

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In December, Windsor became the easternmost point of a new 47.5-mile biking, walking and equestrian trail, officially dubbed the Rock Island Spur of Katy Trail State Park. Windsor is located at the junction of the new Rock Island trail and the Katy Trail.

“We were kind of a pass-through for the last 25 years. But now we are literally a destination,” said Henderson, who is also the city administrator. “The trail can be anything that Windsor wants it to be.”

The opening of the Rock Island spur last winter brought Katy Trail access farther west, to Pleasant Hill. This narrowed the gap between the Katy Trail and the millions of people living in metro Kansas City. An additional 17.7-mile extension being built by Johnson County will connect the trail to the sports complex where the Chiefs and Royals play.

While this new westward connection is very important, many people believe the Rock Island corridor’s true potential lies to the east.

The state of Missouri is currently considering whether to take possession of an additional 144 miles of the Rock Island corridor. The route was once used by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The line reaches across the state into eastern Missouri, passing through or near 20 small towns.

The ultimate dream for cycling advocates is to develop this corridor into a bike trail with an eastern connection to the Katy Trail — perhaps across a new bridge in Washington — creating a massive 450-mile bike loop.

“It would be the longest in the U.S. and possibly the world,” said Greg Harris, executive director of Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc., an organization advocating for the trail. “It would connect Missouri’s two largest metro areas, that are themselves international tourism destinations, with a loop so a person could travel to both with minimal backtracking.”

Please be sure to complete the State Parks Survey on the Rock Island Trail here: www.surveymonkey.com/r/YRQX56F

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