Map of rail connections to the Katy Trail shows threat to trail's legal status

In May

Katy RR Corridor connections to national rail network; click for full-sized version
Union Pacific railroad filed a Notice of Consummation of Abandonment of the Boonville Lift Bridge. This abandonment severs the Katy rail corridor and creates a threat to the future of the Katy Trail.

A map included in Union Pacific's Notice shows all active and inactive rail lines that connect to the Katy rail corridor.

These connections are important for this reason: In order to retain its railbanked status, each part of Katy rail corridor must remain "linked to and part of the interstate rail system" (see this court decision for a detailed explanation of the reasons).

Union Pacific's abandonment of the Boonville Lift Bridge, which crosses the Missouri River at Boonville, creates a severance in the Katy Rail corridor.

A glance at the map shows why this creates a problem.

Between Boonville and Machens, there is a 165 mile stretch of the corridor that connects with the active rail system at only two points--both of them near the east end of the corridor.

Previous to this severance, a point on the Katy Trail near New Franklin was connected to the national rail network via 6 connections and was only a mile or two from the nearest active rail connection.

After the severance that same point is connected via only 2 connections and the nearest connecting point is St. Charles, over 150 miles away.

Furthermore, many of the connections have known issues:
  • Windsor, Rock Island RR: This railroad has been inactive since approximately 1981. This in itself does not create a legal problem, but over a time frame of 50 to 100 years, the possibility of the abandonment of a such a long-unused line must be considered.

  • Boonville, Union Pacific RR: This line is at a much lower grade, approximately 40 feet lower, than the Katy corridor. No right of way currently exists that would accommodate the lengthy interconnecting railroad link that would be necessary to connect these two lines.

  • St. Charles: Since rail traffic on the Katy has stopped, the interconnecting link between this line and the Katy has become disused. If this link were to be abandoned or unusable for some reason, the viability of this connection could fall into question. UPDATE, 30 Dec 2005: MoBikeFed has discovered that this link has been abandoned, removed from the rail network, and sold to the city of St. Charles for use as a road. The connection between these two rail lines does not exist any more.

  • Machens: Large sections of the Katy corridor between St.Charles and Machens adjacent to the Missouri River have been washed away. A long section of the original rail line has been paved over as part of a four-lane road and there is no other place to physically locate a railroad line.
Dividing the Katy corridor into two parts may have no immediate effects on the Katy Trail's legal status. But we are in this for the long haul.

Many situations can change over the next 50 to 100 years. That is why it is important in such a long rails-trails corridor to have each point connected to the national rail network via more than just one or two connections.

Dividing the Katy Trail into two parts reduces a margin of safety in its legal status and opens the trail to the possibility of legal attacks by trail opponents.

Related: Abandonment of Boonville Bridge threatens Katy Trail