Missouri State Parks to host public meeting on Katy Trail, Rock Island Spur

The Rock Island Trail corridor as seen in front of the Rock Island Bed and Breakfast in Rosebud, Missouri.
The Rock Island Trail corridor as seen in front of the Rock Island Bed and Breakfast in Rosebud, Missouri.

As work continues to prepare a section of former rail line with the goal of it being transferred to the state to add to the public parks system, Missouri State Parks is inviting the public to learn more about the status and future plans for some existing local trails.

Missouri State Parks will host an informational meeting at 2 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Sedalia MKT Depot for the West Section of Katy Trail State Park and Rock Island Spur, according to a news release.

Missouri State Parks is a division of the state's Department of Natural Resources.

The Katy Trail - which is accessible in Callaway County, on the north side of the Missouri River - is a 240-mile former rail corridor.

The Rock Island Spur is another 47.5-mile stretch of trail that's a former rail corridor, and it connects with the Katy Trail in Windsor with Pleasant Hill.

Informational meetings such as this "give staff the opportunity to inform the public of the current status and future plans for the park or historic site, while also offering visitors the opportunity to comment on the facilities," according to Missouri State Parks' news release.

Those who attend are "strongly encouraged to follow social-distancing guidelines and be proactive in protecting themselves and others amid ongoing public health concerns. Come prepared with hand sanitizer and bottled water, avoid large and congested crowds, and please stay home if sick. Face coverings are encouraged when social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and may be required by local orders."

The Katy Trail Sedalia MKT Depot is located at 600 E. Third St. in Sedalia.

More information about the meeting is available by calling 573-449-7402.

The Missouri State Parks Foundation has until Dec. 31, 2021, to raise $9.8 million for DNR to take ownership of another former rail corridor, the Rock Island Line Corridor.

The Ameren subsidiary Missouri Central Railroad Company owns the Rock Island corridor and donated the 144-mile stretch to the state for development of it as a trail, but part of the organization's interim agreement with DNR is the state department will take ownership of the corridor if the Parks Foundation raises the money needed for initial development, security and management costs.

If it became a trail, the Rock Island corridor would connect to the Rock Island Spur in Windsor, creating a 400-mile loop with the Katy Trail around the state.

The interim agreement on the Rock Island corridor was reached in December 2019.

DNR and the president of the Missouri State Parks Foundation did not immediately respond Monday regarding how much money the foundation has raised so far.

However, Greg Harris - executive director of Missouri Rock Island Trail, or MORIT, a nonprofit that works to preserve the Rock Island Corridor and turn it into a trail - said: "There's reason to be optimistic."

In speaking with the foundation's president at the end of last month, Harris said, he was not given any numbers but was told things were coming along.

In the meantime, Harris said, MORIT is working through partnerships with communities and others to show the need for a Rock Island Trail and has hired a company to inspect two bridges on the corridor.

About 10 percent of the 144-mile stretch of the corridor passes through the limits of cities and towns, and "all of these towns are very eager to get things going," he said.