Katy Trail at Boonvile: Court case moves forward

The Belleview, IL, Democrat has updated coverage on the continuing court case revolving around the Missouir Department of Natural Resources decision to give away the Katy Bridge at Boonville:
The state bought 200 miles of abandoned Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad line in 1987 under a federal law that allows abandoned rail beds to be turned into trails - so long as they are preserved for potential railroad use in the future.

The deal specifically excluded the railroad's Missouri River bridge at Boonville but contained a provision giving the state the right to use the bridge for the trail if it assumed liability on terms acceptable to the railroad. [See note below.]

Nixon contends that department director Doyle Childers exceeded his authority earlier this year when he told the bridge's current owner - Union Pacific Railroad Co. - that the state was giving up its right to use the bridge. Union Pacific wants to dismantle the bridge and reuse its steel elsewhere. . . .

Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan held his first hearing in the case in late August, after which DNR asked for a change of judge, and the case was assigned to Kinder.

The department's general counsel and deputy director, Kurt Schaefer, said Callahan has a heavy caseload and the agency thought the lawsuit could be resolved more quickly by a retired judge such as Kinder.

Note: The Belleview Democrat article is correct in stating that the Katy Trail agreement gave the state the right to use the bridge as part of the trail under certain conditions. However, the article fails to note that the original agreement also gave the state a second, very important, right: The right to keep the bridge in place as part of a continuous railbanked corridor, meeting all requirements of the Surface Transportation Board.

In other news, the Save the Katy Bridge Committee has launched a $1 million fund raising campaign to raise money to restore the bridge.

Previous coverage of the Katy Bridge issue is here.