City of Boonville takes ownership of MKT Bridge
The city of Boonville finally took ownership of the Katy Bridge after a vote (7-1) at the Monday night city council meeting. A press release from the City states for the past year the City and the Union Pacific have been finalizing agreements for this transfer. Pending the final vote from the City Council at the Monday council meeting, these agreements are the final step in completing the railbanking requirements set forth in the National Rails to Trails Act. During the Monday night Boonville City Council meeting, Mayor Julie Thacher said they have listened to concerns of citizens and have worked those concerns in the agreement. "Our city staff and the Katy Bridge Coalition have done an excellent job," Thacher said. Ward One Councilman Mike Kelley was very glad about the new bridge ownership. "I think it is significant because of Boonville's connection with the bridge as a historical and economical part of its history. It is also significant for the future as what it could bring as far as economic development," e Kelley said. "I think it is wonderful that Boonville can complete this transaction with the Union Pacific. It is the latest in a lot work that Boonville has done to secure the identity of the city," Missouri State Senator Kurt Schaefer said. During a Tuesday morning celebration, the City of Boonville, Union Pacific Railroad and Katy Bridge Coalition invited individuals to celebrate the transfer of ownership from Union Pacific to the City of Boonville. Boonville City Administrator Irl Tessendorf announced plans for the Katy Bridge Phase 1 implementation that will kick off this year. Tessendorf spoke of two grants received from the Missouri Department of Transportation that will assist in this phase. Executive Director of the Katy Bridge Coalition Paula Shannon recounted the happiness she felt that the bridge was finally saved. Shannon also thanked everyone who had helped save the bridge, including the members of the coalition who worked tirelessly for eight years. Former Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said the bridge was on verge of going over a sort of cliff itself but now has been pulled back up. Missouri State Parks Director Bill Bryan read a speech on Governor Jay Nixon's behalf since he was unable to attend. The letter stated Boonville fought to save something that defined the City's skyline. Tessendorf detailed the rehabilitation of the Katy Bridge into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge and that will be part of the Katy Trail. The City intends to keep the lift span Bridge operational. Furthermore, plans for the bridge include event space, an eagle watching venue, engineering and transportation education center and a monument to bridge and engineering technology. Furthermore, an operational bridge preserves the historical integrity of the structure. A model of the bridge, including an operation lift span, was demonstrated during the morning event. The Katy Trail is the longest Rail to Trails project in America, stretching 237 miles across Missouri. This historic agreement between the City and Union Pacific allows the Bridge to be part of this Trail. Railbanking started in 1983 and is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and trail agency to use an out-of-service rail corridor as a trail, unless the need for railroad use arises in the future. A video of the morning event will be included on the Boonville Daily News website at boonvilledailynews.com.