KCStar: Will removing Boonville Bridge endanger Katy Trail?

Sunday's Kansas City Star had a long article about the MKT Bridge at Boonville situation.

This is one of the first articles to squarely address what MoBikeFed believes is the critical issue: will removing the bridge endanger the entire Katy Trail?

As information and documents recently posted to MoBikeFed.org show, removing the bridge may not instantly dissolve the railbanked status of the line, but will remove a margin of safety.

As lawyer, trail advocate, and Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman has said, it give trail opponents an opening to attack the trail. Whether such an attack might succeed is an open question.

The KCStar article reads:
Anyone who sets foot on the old metal railroad bridge here will hear it, says Brent Hugh.

The mellifluous sound of the Missouri River flowing below. It is something you don’t hear while using the pedestrian walkway on the newer, concrete U.S. 40 bridge to the east, where cars and trucks roar past as bicyclists make their way off the Katy Trail into historic downtown Boonville.

Trail supporters like Hugh want the trail to cross the railroad bridge instead of looping to the east, across the U.S. 40 bridge.

But Hugh, president of the Missouri Bicycle Federation, is concerned that bicyclists and others using the trail will never experience the bridge’s charms if Union Pacific Railroad Co., which owns the 73-year-old railroad bridge, is allowed to go ahead with plans to tear it down.

More concerning, though, is what effect destroying the bridge will have on the entire 225-mile Katy Trail State Park. An estimated 350,000 people a year use the trail, which now stretches from St. Charles to Clinton.

“If they’re going to remove the bridge, they need to be darn well and sure the Katy Trail is protected,” said Hugh, 42, of Raytown.

Trail enthusiasts worry that removing the bridge and the existence of a four-lane road that crosses the trail near St. Charles could prompt adjacent landowners to argue the trail has been disconnected from the national railroad system and that the right of way should revert to them.