Ten thousand Missourians are saying the Rock Island Line is the line to ride—-a bicycle. They’ll be taking their hopes today to the owner of a railroad that hasn’t seen a train for two decades.
Petitions advocating turning most of the old Rock Island Railroad line from St. Louis to Kansas City into a new hiking and biking trail will be presented to Ameren this afternoon.
The Rock Island went bankrupt in 1975. A stretch from Union to St. Louis is still used, but 145 miles to the west is dilapidated, weedy, and in some places has one-foot diameter trees growing between the rails.
Executive Director Brent Hugh with the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation hopes Ameren agrees to clear the right of way and turn the property over to the state parks system, joining the KATY Trail as a rails to trails conversion. “They’ll both interconnect with each other at two points so there will be the large scale trail loop leading all the way across the state,” he says.
Redevelopment of the line could take years but Hugh says this is a rare opportunity. He observes, “You get the opportunity to make a major trail like the KATY trail once in a generation. But we get a second bite of the apple here…and if they both happen, it’s going to be amazing for Missouri.”
Ameren will make a decision in a matter of weeks.