More on Boonville Bridge legal situation

As part of the ongoing coverage of the Boonville MKT Bridge legal case, the Carthage Press recently reported that:
Kinder ruled in Nixon's case that the Department of Natural Resources had no property interest in or current contract rights to the Boonville bridge.
The article went on to point out the contract rights that Judge Kinder ruled on:
Opponents had pointed to a 1987 agreement by which the state acquired 200 miles of rail line from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas-Railroad for use as a trail that could someday revert to an active rail line, if necessary. That deal kept ownership of the bridge with the railroad but gave the state the right to use it for the trail if it assumed liability on terms acceptable to the railroad. Those conditions never have been met, Kinder said.
This article together with discussions the MOBikeFed board has had with lawyers who worked on the Boonville Bridge case indicates that there is significant chance of this decision being overturned on appeal.

The reason is that the decision includes a simple error of fact.

The original Interim Trail Agreement that created the Katy Trail in fact gives the Missouri DNR two distinct rights in the MKT bridge:
  1. To be able to assume trail use of the bridge if certain conditions are met
  2. To have the bridge continue to be kept in place and maintained for transportation purposes
Although it may seem at first glance that the first right is the more important--to be able to use the bridge as part of the Katy Trail at some time in the future--in fact the second right is far more important. In fact this second right is vital to maintaining the legal status of over 160 miles of the Katy Trail and that is why railroad and DNR staff and attorneys were so careful to insert this second, more important, right into the original Interim Trail Agreement.

Although it may be argued, and Judge Kinder has apparently accepted the argument, that the first right is a conditional future right andthe conditions necessary for the state to exercise that right in the MKT bridge have never been met, no such argument can be maintained can be put forward for the second right.

That right--to keep the bridge in place "for transportation purposes" began as soon as the agreement was signed and has no pre-conditions.

This second right is, apparently, not addressed in Judge Kinders decision--he appears to have entirely overlooked it. That error of fact could very easily become the basis for overturning the decision on appeal.

This second right--the right to keep the bridge in place of transportation purposes--is important because it keeps the entire Katy railroad corridor intact and connected at several points to the national railroad network. Those connections are essential in order to maintain the Katy's status as a railbanked rail line and that is exactly why this seemingly esoteric right was included in the agreement in the first place.