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Rock Island Trail Takes A Step Forward But Still Needs Millions

The new 144-mile segment of the Rock Island Trail would span from Windsor, Missouri, in the western part of the state to Beaufort in Franklin County.
MoBikeFed | Flickr
The 144-mile segment of the Rock Island Trail donated by Ameren would span from Windsor, Missouri, in the western part of the state, to Beaufort in Franklin County.

Utility company Ameren has come to an agreement with Missouri’s Department of Natural Resources to donate an old rail line for use as a recreational trail. 

The former Rock Island and Pacific Rail corridor owned by Ameren stretches 144 miles from Beaufort to Windsor and would complete a trail that would connect Kansas City to St. Louis. 

But the interim trail-use agreement announced Tuesday won’t be finalized until a private fundraising effort led by the Missouri Parks Foundation brings in $9.8 million in the next two years.

“We’re pretty optimistic that there is support out there and that we will be able to build partnerships that will allow it to happen,” said Mike Sutherland, interim director of Missouri State Parks.

That money will help cover initial development, management and security costs. The total development of the proposed Rock Island Trail is estimated to cost $65 million to $85 million.


Sutherland said some communities along the trail will likely step up and finish parts of it on their own.

“In studying this, we found many cities want a finished trail through their town, and now that this deal is in place, we suspect they will feel comfortable in moving forward with those plans,” Sutherland said. 

“Now the work really begins. All of that support that has been expressed over the last few years needs to turn into real, tangible support for the project to be done.”

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Jonathan Ahl is the Newscast Editor and Rolla correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.