Rock Island Trail update: Missouri State Parks enters new phase with 144-mile Rock Island Trail acquisition--now working on "partnerships" and a fundraising strategy

Missouri State Parks and Ameren have received another extension in their work to hammer out an agreement to transfer the next 144 miles of the Rock Island Corridor between Windsor and Beaufort.

The 144-mile section of the Rock Island under discussion
The 144-mile section of the Rock Island under discussion will someday be part of a 500+ mile cross-state trail loop system, combining the Katy, Rock Island, and other connecting trails to reach many of Missouri's largest--and smallest--cities

The extension last until December 31st, 2019.

In seeking the extension, and in a Keynote Address at the Missouri Active Transportation Summit earlier in August, State Parks has given us the clearest picture yet of where they see the Rock Island project going.

Missouri State Parks and State Parks Foundation looking to develop partnership and financial support for the new Rock Island Trail State Park

In his Keynote Address to the 2019 Summit, State Parks Deputy Director Mike Sutherland strongly emphasized partnerships, and that State Parks is now looking out to make partnerships to make the next 144 miles of the Rock Island a success.

The filing with the Surface Transportation Board gives more detail about State Parks' plan:

MCRR and MDNR have continued to meet almost every week during this extension period. The parties are very close to reaching an agreement on all the terms for the Interim Trail Use Agreement ("ITUA").

While much progress has been made towards the signing of an ITUA, the parties recognize that the conversion of the approximately 144-mile rail line into a recreational trail stands to be a significant undertaking that will require substantial financial resources.

MDNR takes seriously the financial commitments required of a trail sponsor when signing an ITUA and seeks to ensure it has the capacity to make those commitments prior to signing the ITUA.

On July 10, 2019, the Governor of Missouri signed a bill creating a new dedicated "Rock Island Trail State Park Endowment Fund" in the Missouri state treasury, in which all donations, grants, and other support funding for the trail will be deposited for MDNR's use.

Representatives of MoBikeFed and MoRIT meet with Ameren
In 2014, representatives of MoBikeFed and Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc, met with Ameren to deliver around 14,000 petition signatures in support of the Rock Island Trail. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy played a key role in promoting the trail, helping build nationwide support, and in submitting a competitive bid to purchase the corridor. Many bike, ped, and trails organizations across Missouri also played avitally important supporting role.

The Missouri State Park Foundation, a nonprofit organization established for the purpose of supporting the Missouri state park system, is developing a fundraising strategy for the project, but requires more time to finalize those plans. Therefore, MDNR and MCRR hereby request an 133-day extension of the negotiating period with this filing. 

Fall 2018 informational meetings give more insight into State Parks goals

If you attended the State Parks Informational Meetings about the Rock Island in Fall 2018, you have an idea of the scope of financial support State Parks is looking to achieve in order to acquire and hold the corridor and start construction. The informational panels from those meetings are still online on State Parks' excellent Rock Island Line Corridor pages.

Stay tuned. And if you know anyone or any major donors who might like to make a major contribution to the Rock Island Trail project, please have them contact the Missouri State Parks Foundation ASAP.

 

Building a world-class bicycle and pedestrian network across Missouri is one of the four primary goals of MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Helping support major statewide trails and routes, like the Rock Island Trail, mapping hundreds of miles of bicycle routes connecting various parts of the state to the Katy/Rock Island system, and the recently announced 250-mile Butterfield Stage Experience, are one way we help accomplish that goal.

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

 

Missouri's statewide Rock Island Trail