The Star reports that 3 miles are complete and federal approval is progress for a change of plans that will make the trail even better once it's all finished.
An extension of the Katy Trail State Park from Windsor to Pleasant Hill in Kansas City's southest suburbs is underway. The first three mile segment of trail is complete and open for use just east of Pleasant Hill, including two new trailheads. The orginal plan was to construct the trail alongside the unused Rock Island Railroad, which is owned by the St. Louis utility company Ameren. This would have meant building all new bridges, culverts, etc. and putting the trail in a low area prone to flooding.
Change of plan causes delay, but for the better
Those problems led the Department of Natural Resources to rethink the plan and renegotiate with Ameren. Now the trail will be built on the actual railroad bed, just like the rest of the Katy Trail. This puts the trail up above high water, allows for the reuse of many existing bridges, and cuts construction costs in half. Now that the first 3 miles are done, we are just waitng for a federal agency to sign off on the new plan for the rest of the extension.
Final connecton into Kansas City
Our long term vision is to bring the Katy Trail all the way into the city and connect it with Kansas' Flint Hills Nature Trail, which currently reaches near Osawatomie. This last piece of trail would go through Greenwood, Lee's Summit, and Raytown. It would end at the Truman Sports Complex, where it will eventually connect to the Brush Creek Trail to the Plaza and the Blue River Trail to the Missouri River and Downtown.
BikeWalkKC is working hard to realize this final piece of the Katy to KC connection. We are part of the Jackson County Regional Rail Coalition, which envisions a new commuter rail line alongside the trail. We are also working with regional leaders on enabling state legislation for a multi-county trails and greenway district to fund trails and bike lanes.
Please stay tuned for new developments in the coming year, and consider joining BikeWalkKC to help make these dreams a reality.
View Katy Trail Western Extension in a larger map
Construction delayed on Rock Island Trail, a Katy Trail connector
Kansas City Star, Fri, Jan. 13, 2012
WARRENSBURG | Construction on the Rock Island Trail has been halted pending approval by the Federal Surface Transportation Board for interim use of the abandoned rail bed.
The trail will run from Pleasant Hill through Johnson County to connect with the Katy Trail at Windsor.
State Parks Director Bill Bryan said a 3.2-mile section of the trail at Pleasant Hill is complete and paperwork has been submitted to the FSTB, which must approve projects that take railroad corridors out of service.
“We expect a ruling soon, and in our favor,” Bryan said. “The whole process has taken about a year.”
Bryan said the paperwork covers the completed section of the trail. When approval is received for that section, paperwork will be submitted to cover the remainder of the project, he said.
No further construction will take place until approval is received for the whole trail, he said.
“I think, when we go through it again, it will be easier,” he said. “The agreements and paperwork we completed for the first section are essentially the same. I think it will go much more quickly.
”We hope to be totally done (with the FSTB process) by this time next year.“
Construction is on schedule, he said, but is contingent on the FSTB process.
The first segment of the trail has been the most difficult to construct, he said, because of the number of bridges and wetlands in the area.
”The rest will go faster,“ he said. ”I think once we get approval, it will happen quickly.“
The trail will be constructed in the rail bed rather than alongside as proposed originally, Bryan said.
That eliminates private property issues, he said, since the easement already exists.
The change also eliminates the need to add bridges and culverts, which will make the project more environmentally friendly as it cut costs in half, Bryan said.
Building the trail in the rail bed also will make ”a better experience for users,“ Bryan said.
”Instead of going up and down and back and forth, they will have a continuous corridor,“ he said.
He said as soon as they receive FSTB approval, construction will resume. But he said there is no prediction for now as to when construction will begin in Johnson County.
The project will be constructed in nine phases, with completion estimated originally to take about three years.
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