Andy Ostmeyer: With the Rock Island Trail, is a moment at hand for Missouri to become premier cycling destination? | joplinglobe.com

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What if, when you think cycling, your mind shifted to Missouri? Could we become the state identified with that passion, an identity built on one of the best, oldest and longest rail-to-trail networks in the country?

Fortune has smiled on Missouri, Greg Harris told me last week. He is executive director of Missouri Rock Island Trail Inc., and he said rail routes that were put together more than a century ago — including land acquisition, grading, leveling and bridging — create opportunities for a new generation and new modes of transportation.

It’s a question of vision and seizing momentum when the moment appears.

Harris said one of those moments is nearly here.

Sometime this fall, salvage work for rails and ties will be completed on the 144-mile Rock Island line that crosses much of the state on the south side of the Missouri River.

At that point, it can be transferred to the state — but the state must accept it.

Accepting ownership of the line would ratchet up Missouri’s reputation as the country’s premier rail-to-trail and cycling destination and all that that means for tourism and economic development.

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