The deal is finally done to eliminate the last bottleneck on the main rail line between Kansas City and St. Louis.  The contract has all the signatures needed to build a second bridge across the Osage River, a project that at one time was a political issue between then-Governor Matt Blunt and then-Attorney General Jay Nixon. 

The 28-million dollar project will rely on more than 22-milion dollars in federal stimulus funds. The Union Pacific hopes trains are rolling across it by 2014.  The transportation department’s railroads director, Eric Curtit,  says the state and the railroad faced a September 15th deadline. He says “hot and heavy” negotiations in the last two weeks have brought the department, the UP, the Federal Railroad Administration, and other partners together on the agreement.

The bridge is a critical link in the 130-mile route that AMTRAK and freight trains run on.  The present line over the Osage River is the only single track spot, causing a bottleneck. 

The site of the new bridge is the place where Union Pacific originally wanted to put the old KATY Bridge at Boonville, a move supported by the Blunt administration but stalled by the city of Boonville and then-Attorney General Nixon.  Boonville hopes someday to find money to use the KATY bridge as a link between the city, on the south bank of the Missouri River, and the KATY trail on the north side.

 Listen to interview with Eric Curtit 3:05 .mp3