MoDOT announces funding for bike/ped river crossing at Jefferson City

MoDOT recently announced a $4 million grant under TEA-21 (the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, the federal highway funding bill) to add a 6-foot bicycle-pedestrian path to the southbound side of the Missouri River crossing at Jefferson City.

The path will allow bike/ped travel in both directions. It can be no more than six feet wide because of weight considerations--the new pedestrian span will be cantilevered from the west side of the current bridge. The path will have 8-foot high fencing, with an inward curve at the top, on both sides.

On the south end of the river is downtown Jefferson City, including the state capital and other government buildings; on the north side is the Katy Trail.

MoDOT had previously announced a re-striping and re-fitting project for the northbound lanes of the bridge to give more shoulder room, making the northbound direction bicyclable. The soundbound side of the bridge, however, remained a difficult problem.

The bridge is an important link between the Katy Trail and Jefferson City. MoDOT's Bike/Ped coordinator Caryn Giarratano said that "It will in effect connect the greenway to the Katy Trail."

The community must come up with $1 million to match the $5 million provided by the federal government. The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau is exploring the idea of creating a foundation to collect community donations to raise the needed funds.

Pedestrian and bicycle advocates hailed the bike/ped bridge and the shoulder widening as an important links across the Missouri River. Currently the Missouri River crossing at Jefferson City is very, very difficult for bicyclists and completely impassible for pedestrians. The nearest alternative crossing points are northwest at Booneville and east at Hermann, about 25-35 miles distant.

The new bridge has important implications for tourism in the Jefferson City area--both as an attraction in itself and as a link between Jefferson City and internationally renowned Katy Trail.