What has been called one of Missouri’s most endangered historic places has a new owner.
A train hasn’t crossed the 81-year-old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad Bridge over the Missouri River at Boonville since 1986. Since then there has been an effort and even a legal battle to save the bridge. Last night the Boonville City Council voted to take ownership from Union Pacific.
The bridge will become part of the Katy Trail, and Boonville Special Projects Coordinator Kate Fjell says that’s not all.
“We wanted it to be able to be event space or a place where people can watch eagles because we know that eagles roost over there during the season. You can just enjoy the River. It’s the only River crossing along the Katy Trail, so we really feel it has lots of uses beyond just something that people are going to walk or bicycle over.”
The City has also received about $430-thousand dollars in state transportation enhancement funds that will support the first phase of bridge renovations.
Fjell says, “That’s going to build the missing span, which is on the Boonville side, and also will repair and rehabilitate a certain portion of the bridge to the first truss span. After the completion of that people will actually be able to walk out onto the bridge, or a certain portion, and have a River view.”
The following phases will repair and clean the uniquely designed lift span and the rail bed will be converted to the trail, the third phase will refurbish the bridge from the lift span to the Howard County side, and finally the bridge will be reconnected to the Howard County side.
The City plans to keep the lift span operational. Fjell says the project will cost an estimated $3.5 to $4-million dollars.
The bridge was the subject of a legal battle when Union Pacific planned in 2005 to remove portions of it to be used on a bridge over the Osage River. Stimulus funds secured by the state in 2010 are building that bridge and allowed for the Boonville bridge to remain intact.