• Phase one of the Katy Bridge is beginning.
• This phase will allow visitors and citizens to walk on the bridge.
• Private donations are funding the bridge.
Boonville Tourism Director Katie Gibson will now be able to answer a question she is asked more than any other; when is construction going to begin on the Katy Bridge. She can answer with, ‘now.’
After 10 years of fighting to save the bridge and raising the funds for its eventual restoration, the Katy Bridge Coalition sees that as adding more momentum to the project. With progress being made in completing phase one, the project that is solely being funded with independent funds, may see more donations from local individuals and organizations.
“This phase will allow visitors and towns-people to get on the bridge,” Katy Bridge Coalition member Paula Shannon said. “They will finally get to see the beginnings of the energy that has been poured in making this project a reality.”
The City of Boonville, which has ownership of the bridge is glad to see progress, especially after years of negotiating with Union Pacific.
“We are very excited that the Phase 1 rehabilitation of the Katy Bridge is finally coming to fruition, I think everyone would agree that it has been a long time coming. I also believe that with the completion of this first phase and the resulting opportunities for people to actually get out on the bridge and enjoy the incredible Missouri River will assist the Katy Bridge Coalition in their fundraising efforts for future rehabilitation efforts,” Boonville Assistant City Administrator Katie Fjell stated.
Phase one, which will complete the first southern span, when completed, will allow visitors to go out on the bridge up to the lift span. The hope, in the near future, is to have a fully operational bridge where people can walk or bike across it.
“With the start of phase one of the bridge renovation beginning, I feel that it will draw quite a bit of attention, both locally and from visitors. I cannot even begin to put a number on the amount of people that come in to the visitors center and are fascinated by and or are interested in the bridge and what is going on to restore it. One question we get quite often is, ‘can I go across the bridge?’ It does make a good conversation starter about the project, but it will make it even better when I will be able to say, ‘Yes,’ or at least part of it. Most people in town know about the project, but I think watching the first phase of construction begin will start to make it that much more real for people and give our community more of a connection to the river that we live so close to,” Gibson said.
The bridge is one component to one large grand plan that turns the whole area into a tourist district.
“The depot area is becoming a hub for tourist to learn more about Boonville,” Shannon said.
The plan is to expand on the entire district around the Katy Depot, including the future museum, making it a major hub for future visitors to Boonville.
“The City has been consistently working to develop this entire tourism corridor for nearly a decade. Some of this work includes, acquiring leases on several DNR properties, allowing us greater planning and development control, renovation of the Katy Bridge, acquiring the Bridge, the Katy Bride approach project (currently being done) and the extension of the historical lighting and sidewalk improvements on Spring Street. The Katy Bridge is a key component of this corridor development and so we are very happy to see it beginning as well,” Fjell added.
As clearing continues more work will be noticeable as visitors travel near the depot on Morgan Street.
The first phase is costing $750,000, which was provided by private individuals.
“The excitement when looking back 10 years ago during our first meeting on determining the future of the bridge, we were able to ignite interest and commitment,” Shannon said.
Shannon’s vision includes the Katy Bridge as an integral part of the Katy Trail. But, for Shannon, this would not be possible without the support of the local citizens, the city, businesses and local organizations.