Enthusiasm for Rock Island Trail Loud and Clear at Missouri State Parks Public Meetings

By on November 5, 2018

From Cision PR:  Hundreds from across Missouri attended public meetings hosted this week by Missouri State Parks to help determine the fate of the 144-mile Rock Island Railroad corridor between Windsor and Beaufort, Missouri. Public feedback at the meetings was overwhelmingly positive, mirroring the sentiment of the nearly 9,000 comments—nearly unanimous in their support for the project—that were previously submitted to the state in the summer of 2017.

“We appreciate the work that State Parks has done to gather the necessary information to make a decision about the Rock Island corridor—including this week (Nov. 2) listening to hundreds of people talk about the importance of preserving this incredible asset,” said Brent Hugh, Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation executive director. “Now, it’s time to use that information to inform a creative, flexible approach to funding and developing the corridor. As the February 2019 Surface Transportation Board deadline for the transfer agreement approaches, Missouri State Parks must listen to its citizens and follow through with accepting the corridor.”

This week’s meetings underscore the need to be creative and flexible to secure new economic opportunities for the small towns along its route, an epic outdoor recreation asset for all of Missourito celebrate and enjoy, and a world-class destination trail.

Missouri is incredibly lucky; corridors of this type are few and far between. It is critical that the state takes the first step and railbanks the corridor. We can build it over time, in partnership and in a way that mitigates financial risk to the state,” said Keith Laughlin, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) president.

“The communities along the route want this trail. Missourians across the state want this trail. Bicyclists and tourists from across the country want this trail. What’s in question is the state’s willingness to make the decision that’s in the best interest of its residents, protecting its legacy as a rail-trail leader,” Laughlin added.

In reconsidering its position on accepting Ameren Corporation’s offer to donate the corridor for use as a trail, Missouri State Parks cites concerns about costs, maintenance and the state’s capacity—all issues that have and can be addressed in partnership with Missouri’s robust nonprofit trails community, local governments and private investment.

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