Just as the Bald Eagle soars gracefully and intimately over the mighty Missouri River, so too can individuals seeking to have a similar experience of the river as they trek over the Katy Bridge. In fact, it is here where many can view the magnificent birds.

Just as the Bald Eagle soars gracefully and intimately over the mighty Missouri River, so too can individuals seeking to have a similar experience of the river as they trek over the Katy Bridge. In fact, it is here where many can view the magnificent birds.
The bridge stands proud, straddling the river, ready for the next phase of its life. With the continuing effort to restore this historic bridge, the idea that was once a dream is taking hold right before the eyes of many.
After the success and completion of phase one, Katy Bridge Coalition members are thinking ahead in a much renewed way.
For coalition member, Paula Shannon, Saturday marked almost a new beginning. While the former chapter of saving this historic bridge had closed when the city acquired it from the Union Pacific, several challenges were in store for Chapter Two. She knew that the challenges faced in the beginning were going to be small compared to the challenges of raising money and turning hearts to the bridge. It was a different challenge, one she and her fellow members were ready for.
After a couple of  years, funding was secured for the first phase, which allowed the bridge to finally be touched instead of gazed upon by glaring eyes. Pedestrians can finally use their entire array of senses to experience the bridge.
On Saturday, coalition members reflected on the past, if it was for a brief moment. For them, it is the future that is important…the prize is the completion of the bridge, not just the phase. Much has changed in the last couple years when the coalition was planning to complete four phases. Now, the coalition has simplified its vision into three phases, which will ultimately bridge two counties together.
While funding has begun for phase two, Shannon is eager to get the north approach completed, so pedestrians in Howard County can experience the bridge. Much work will have to be done to clear the former Katy Railroad right-of-way that meets the bridge. This, along with completion of all the spans to the lift portion of the bridge, will be completed.
The coalition wants the public to be an integral part of the bridge, either by visiting it or by helping the coalition with efforts in its restoration. For them, the ultimate achievement, will be having the lift span operational again. The coalition states that it WILL one day be working.
While the bridge has been coined, ‘the Crown Jewel of the Katy Trail,’ it is part of a larger development happening now around the Katy Depot. Right in the middle of what used to be a rail yard, now sits an array of activities for visitors and citizens alike. A bike can be fixed in a bike shop, history can be remembered at the museum or a hike or stroll can be had on the Katy Trail. All these things make up a small portion of what the Depot District has and will become – a redeveloped tourism hub for Boonville.
“We were able to see how we can attract a large number of people within our community,” Shannon said.
And the sky is the limit…
Finishing the bridge is the main goal of the coalition, but they are also looking at ways of expanding the use of the bridge. Shannon said there may be a way to dock boats on a pylon and take an elevator up to the bridge in the future. This would allow easy access to the city since it is illegal to cross the railroad tracks.
While Governor Nixon spoke of the saving the bridge, he had a hopeful future for a structure for which he has formed a fondness. He could not wait for the day when the bridge would be fully functional.
“This is the first step in re-connection the bridge once again,” Nixon said.
He is even more optimistic since Missouri was named the Trail State because, for him, the bridge makes the trail system in the state even more valuable.
“With the redevelopment of the Boonville River Front, this will give visitors another reason to make the Boonslick their destination, not just a brief stop along the Katy Trail,” Cooper County Eastern District Commissioner Paul Davis said.
As donations come in, several people are even donating their services to one day making this crown jewel shine.

(An earlier story named Paula Shannon as the president of the Katy Bridge Coalition. She is just a member. Sarah Gallagher is the coalition president.)