Gov. Blunt: How Katy Trail Connection helps Missouri

Katy Trail connection visualization
An editorial by Governor Matt Blunt was published in the KCStar today, outlining how connecting the Katy Trail to the Kansas City area will help the entire state:
Something positive can sometimes come from tragedy. Such is the case of the opportunity to connect the Katy Trail into the Kansas City area.

As a part of the settlement over the collapse of the Ameren Taum Sauk reservoir that caused significant environmental damages, including damage to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park, my office and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have negotiated a settlement with Ameren that provides the department with the license needed to expand the Katy Trail alongside the old Rock Island Railroad corridor from Windsor to Pleasant Hill.

The new trail will cross the current Katy Trail State Park at Windsor, connecting it from St. Louis to Kansas City.

Connecting the Katy Trail to the Kansas City area has been one of my longtime priorities for Missouri.

On the east side of the state, the Katy Trail extends to St. Charles, and we are planning further extensions with the goal of connecting the Katy Trail to trails that will eventually reach our border with Illinois. Now, with this new opportunity to connect Katy Trail to Pleasant Hill, it opens many doors to connect the trail to our border with Kansas.

Having a trail crossing the entire state and connecting the two major metropolitan centers will boost recreation opportunities, tourism and Missouri’s economy.
Governor Blunt saw the potential for including the Katy Trail in the Ameren settlement right from the beginning of the negotiations.

The stage was set for this possibility when KCStar columnist Mike Hendricks and MoBikeFed challenged candidates in the 2004 Missouri governor's race to become champions for the "Complete Katy Trail".

Another step was taken when MoBikeFed members and supporter sent over 1000 messages in support of including the Katy Trail Connection in the Ameren settlement to Attorney General Jay Nixon's office in September 2006. The result was the Karen Mitchell, Deputy Attorney General, and Georganne Nixon, Attorney General Jay Nixon's wife, spoke at BikeMO 2006 about the Attorney General's commitment to preserving and extending the Katy Trail.

It was the Governor and Attorney General--from opposing political parties and both aiming at a run at the governorship in 2008--who first had to agree on what the state wanted from Ameren, before a deal could be struck.