Work to save MK&T bridge in Boonville for Katy Trail heats up

A Boonville Daily News article reports on the latest in the attempt to save the unused MK&T; bridge over the Missouri River in Boonville for use as a bike/ped bridge that could be part of the Katy Trail:
Discussions regarding ownership of the MK & T Railroad Bridge are getting warmer.

State Senator Bill Stouffer told Boonville city leaders Thursday afternoon that commercial interests in Jefferson City were pushing hard for the demolition of the bridge, even though community leaders of the Boone's Lick region have expressed interest in developing it for tourism.

Stouffer advised the need for the Boonville community to "weigh in" on the matter.

"Time is really of the essence," said Sarah Gallagher, Boonville's director of economic development.

The news prompted an emergency meeting Thursday night of the steering committee for the Save the Bridge Association. The group is working to preserve the bridge as part of the history of the Boonslick area and to develop it for tourism, in hopes it will become the nucleus of the Katy Trail.

The MK&T; Bridge is owned by Union Pacific. But under the federal Rails to Trails Use Agreement of 1987, Union Pacific was compensated $200,000 by the State for an option to use the bridge as part of the Katy Trail, according to Columbia Mayor and longtime Trail supporter, Darwin Hindman.
In a separate article, the News reports that the Boonville City Council has adopted a resolution in support of saving the MK&T; bridge:
The council agreed to consider the issue brought to their attention from the "Save the Katy Bridge Association," a group recently formed in an effort to preserve the unique and historically significant structure.

But resolution or no resolution, the matter is far from settled in Jefferson City, where railroad representatives are pushing hard for permission to bring down the historic bridge.

The bridge was scheduled for demolition March 1, 2005. But a declaration by outgoing Department of Natural Resources Director Steve Mahfood, claiming the bridge for the Katy Trail, re-routed Union Pacific's plans. Now the future of the bridge is both literally and figuratively, "up in the air."

Mahfood claimed the bridge through the federal "Rails to Trails" agreement negotiated in the 1980s. Under that contract, Union Pacific received $200,000 in exchange for the right-of-way on the MK & T Bridge.