First Katy Bridge Festival in Boonville

Saturday, September 24th, was the first Katy Bridge Festival in Boonville.

The festival was part of the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition's efforts to raise awareness about the bridge, which is part of the Katy rail corridor, and to raise $1 million to save the bridge.

ABC 17 News covered the festival.

In related news, the lawsuit over the Katy Bridge at Boonville is proceeding. According to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article:
A judge ruled Monday that Attorney General Jay Nixon cannot be barred from suing the Department of Natural Resources in a dispute involving an old railroad bridge and the Katy Trail State Park. . . .

In 1987, the state bought a 200-mile stretch of idle MKT line between the St. Charles area and Sedalia. Abandoned rail lines typically revert to private property owners, but a federal law allows them to be used as trails, so long as they are preserved for potential railroad use in the future.

The bridge was specifically excluded from the sale, but the agreement stipulated that DNR could use the bridge for the trail if it assumed liability on terms acceptable to the railroad.

Union Pacific Railroad Co., which now owns the bridge, wants to tear it down and reuse the steal on a new Osage River bridge east of Jefferson City. To help facilitate that, Childers waived the state's right to use the bridge for the trail.
Incidentally, copies of the documents that created the Katy Trail, obtained by the Missouri Bicycle Federation, clearly show that the State of Missouri received two important rights in the Katy Bridge--not just the one right mentioned in the article above.

The two rights are:
  1. MKT agrees that said bridge shall be kept available for transportation purposes in accordance with ICC decision ex parte No. 274 (Sub.-No. 13)
  2. MDNR upon execution of waivers of liability acceptable to MKT may utilize the bridge for trail purposes
The second right (to use the bridge as part of the trail) is the one receiving the most press coverage.

However, the first right--to keep the bridge available for transportation purposes--is more important for maintaining the legal status of the entire Katy Trail.

In order to keep intact the legal status as "railbanked", every point in a railtrail must remain connected with the active national rail system.

Exactly what it means to be connected "for transportation purposes" is a complex and technical legal point. But it is clear that removing the Katy Bridge at Boonville without taking steps to ensure the legal status of the rail corridor over the Missouri River at that point threatens the connectivity of the Katy Trail.

A long trail like the Katy is connected to the active rail network at only a few specific points. Therefore, maintaining unbroken connectivity of the entire Katy Trail, as required by the original trail agreement, is vitally important.

There are legal steps that can be taken that will guarantee that the Katy remain unbroken "for transportation purposes" even though the Katy Bridge at Boonville may be removed.

However, the Missouri DNR has not taken those steps.

Furthermore, the Missouri DNR has given away two valuable rights in the Katy railroad corridor. Union Pacific claims that moving the bridge to a new location will save the railroad millions of dollars. Yet the DNR has not received anything valuable from Union Pacific in return for giving up these two rights to the Katy Bridge.