Gov. Jay Nixon today announced that the State of Missouri has reached an agreement-in-principle with Union Pacific Railroad that will preserve the historic MKT railroad lift bridge over the Missouri River at Boonville. The Governor was at the Katy Trail depot in Boonville today to make the announcement, where he was joined by representatives of the city of Boonville and the railroad, by members of the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition, and by hiking and bicycling enthusiasts.
Under the agreement, Union Pacific will transfer the bridge to the city of Boonville. City officials and the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition have led efforts to preserve the landmark bridge, which is part of the rail corridor that forms the 225-mile long Katy Trail State Park. The bridge was constructed in 1932; at the time, its 400-foot long central lift span was the longest in the country.
"This is an exciting day not only for the people of Boonville, but also for recreation enthusiasts and for those want to preserve a piece of Missouri and railroad history," Gov. Nixon said. "I want to thank the city, the coalition and Union Pacific for making this possible to keep this historic bridge in place, and I look forward to seeing plans for developing the bridge as a tourism centerpiece for Boonville come to fruition."
The Governor said that with the announcement of the bridge transfer, the Missouri Division of State Parks was prepared to discuss with Boonville officials how the bridge might eventually be incorporated into use by bicyclists, joggers and hikers using the nearby Katy Trail. Boonville is one of the most populous communities along the trail, which is used by more than 300,000 people each year.
Gov. Nixon said today's announcement about the bridge at Boonville follows other good news announced last week about transportation in Missouri. On Jan. 28, the Governor and federal officials announced that Missouri will receive $31 million in federal Recovery Act money to make improvements along the rail corridor between Kansas City and St. Louis.
A portion of that money will help construct a second railroad bridge over the Osage River near Jefferson City. The second bridge will eliminate the only stretch of single track between Jefferson City and St. Louis, meaning that passenger trains going across the state will no longer be delayed because they have to wait for freight trains to pass over the single bridge.
The result of eliminating the bottleneck, the Governor said, will be quicker travel for rail passengers and freight between the state's two largest cities and between the capital and St. Louis.
"This federal money for rail improvements is more good news for travelers and for job creation," Gov. Nixon said. "This is especially true when coupled with the announcement last week that more than a billion dollars from the Recovery Act is being used to develop the corridor between St. Louis and Chicago for passenger trains to run at higher speeds with fewer delays."