Community support for Rock Island Trail intensifies as Gasconade River Bridge ties burn

The 1776 foot long Gasconade River Bridge--the longest bridge in Missouri--is planned as the centerpiece of the Rock Island Trail. Ties across the bridge burned overnight and through the early morning Wednesday.

Ties on the Gasconade River Bridge burned in a fire that started overnight
Ties on the Gasconade River Bridge burned in a fire that started overnight

Cause of the fire is unknown at this time, but ABC17 reports on some possibilities:

Deputies said that based on the initial investigation, the fire does not seem to be suspicious in nature. 

Deputies said crews were working on the bridge yesterday with metal cutting torches but an officials investigation will be conducted to rule out any suspicious activity.

Trail supporters reacted to the fire with renewed energy and enthusiasm for the trail. Incidents like the fire underline the need to more forward with trail construction at the fastest possible pace.

By all appearances, damage to the bridge is extremely superficial.  Many ties were burned--ties that must be removed before trail construction in any event.  Damage to structural elements of the bridge is likely to be light or nonexistent--thought it will take analysis by a structural engineer to tell for certain.

Salvage equipment was working in the area recently, so it is possible a malfunction with the equipment caused the fire, or the fire started in some other accidental way. Fire investigators are looking into possible causes now.

Minor setbacks on previous Missouri Rail-Trails projects only steeled community resolve, work towards successful trail completion continued unabated

Interestingly, Missouri's second and third longest rail-trails, the Frisco Highline Trail connecting Springfield and Boliver, and the MKT Trail connecting Columbia to the Katy Trail, both faced multiple problems with their bridges.

In the case of the Frisco Highline Trail, no fewer than four bridges caught fire or were partially destroyed, mostly during the period after railroad traffic stopped and before the trail was built.

But those setbacks--which seemed huge at the time but in retrospect were more speed bumps than road blocks--didn't stop the trails. Both of those trails are now open, very successful, and very popular with local residents and tourists.

The Gasconade River Bridge - one of the centerpieces of the future Rock Island Trail

As the longest bridge in Missouri, the Gasconade River Bridge joins two of the longest tunnels in Missouri as among the most striking features of the Rock Island Trail.  These long bridges and tunnels are the type of features that encourage tourists and visitors to come from out of state or out of country and spend time--and money--in Missouri when they visit the trail.

The Gasconade River Bridge is in an amazing natural setting, as this drone footage of the bridge by Steve Jett shows:

Gasconade River Train Bridge by Drone from S Jett on Vimeo.

How you can help

Please continue to support the Rock Island Trail by contacting Missouri State Parks via their Rock Island Corridor Information Page and your local elected representatives (state senator and state representative).

More about Missouri's new cross-state trail, the Rock Island Trail, on our Missouri Rock Island Trail page.

And please support our friends at the Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc. They are the organization dedicated solely to building and supporting the Rock Island Trail, are very busy now organizing local and community support for the trail across Missouri.


Working to create major cross-state trails and bicycle routes is one way we help achieve the goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Statewide trails and cross-state bicycle, pedestrian, and trails connections are key to the goal of creating a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network in Missouri.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn our Vision into reality!

Join MoBikeFed's Advocacy Network

MoBikeFed is a statewide group of people like you, working together for better bicycling, walking, and trails in Missouri. When you join our advocacy network you receive occasional important advocacy alerts and bicycle, pedestrian, and trails news from around Missouri.

Working together we make a real difference! Join our advocacy network:

Want better bicycling and walking in Missouri?
We rely on the support of members like you.  Please join, renew, or donate today.