Katy Trail connection to KC "on track"

According to an article today by Bill Graham of the Kansas City Star:
Missouri’s cross-state Katy Trail is on track to reach the Kansas City area’s southeast corner, and trail builders are planning to connect the hiking and biking route to downtown. . . . a longtime goal is extending it on both ends from the Kaw River mouth in Kansas City to the Mississippi River near St. Louis, with links to other trail systems in both metro areas.

A key component recently was added when a Reynolds County Circuit judge approved a $180 million settlement for the collapse of AmerenUE’s Taum Sauk reservoir in 2005. . . . [the settlement] allows the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to extend the Katy Trail from Windsor, Mo., to Pleasant Hill on rail right of way controlled by AmerenUE. The utility also paid $18 million to help build the trail. . . .

Surveying the right of way and double-checking land title agreements are the next steps, Holst said. Some brush clearing could begin in the spring.

But that trail will not be on top of the graded rail bed, which AmerenUE reserved for future railroad use. The rail line has not been abandoned. Instead, the trail will be built adjacent to the right of way. Trail planners must figure out river and highway crossings without using existing bridges. Plus, fiber-optic cables are buried in the right of way.

Holst said state officials think the trail segment can be built despite those obstacles. They also think that by using state park crews that are familiar with trail construction, they can keep the cost close to $18 million.

But for Kansas City, Lee’s Summit and other cities working to bring the Katy Trail northwest from Pleasant Hill, right-of-way acquisition and construction could be trickier, planners say.
Read the rest of Graham's article here.