JEFFERSON CITY — A plan to build a second cross-state pedestrian and bicycling trail in Missouri may be getting an injection of federal funds.
Gov. Mike Parson is scheduled to participate in an announcement in Eldon Tuesday about the Rock Island Corridor, a 144-mile rails-to-trails project stretching from Beaufort in Franklin County to Windsor in Henry County.
Details of the announcement were not immediately available, but Greg Harris, the executive director of the Missouri Rock Island Trail organization, said he expects a positive update on the future of the former railroad right-of-way.
“We do anticipate good news,” Harris said Monday.
The proposed trail has been in a holding pattern while the Missouri State Parks Foundation has tried to raise nearly $10 million as part of a partnership with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to help pay for its construction.
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The former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad corridor, which would run through towns including Rosebud, Gerald, Eldon and Versailles, is expected to be built in segments, with some of those including bridges crossing the Gasconade, Maries and Osage rivers.
Ameren began clearing ties, brush and other remnants of the railway more than five years ago in preparation for the conversion.
In August, the Post-Dispatch reported that boosters were still millions of dollars short heading toward a deadline this month to have the money in hand.
The project, however, has been in the mix in Cabinet-level discussions within the Parson administration.
Briefing documents for top agency officials show the trail is listed among the top 20 in “transformation projects” under consideration for federal emergency rescue dollars.
Other projects on the list include a new laboratory for the Missouri State Highway Patrol and a pedestrian bridge over the Meramec River at Route 66 State Park near Eureka.
The overall price tag for the project is $107 million, according to the documents.
The state and Missouri Central Railroad, which is a subsidiary of Ameren, inked an Interim Trails Use Agreement in December 2019 to pave the way for the donation of the former rail line to the state for use as a state park.
Missouri Central Railroad in late 2014 took the first steps in donating the line to the state in a filing with the federal government. Then-Gov. Jay Nixon was a supporter of the proposed trail, and has continued to advocate for the project since leaving office in 2017.
A 47.5-mile spur already links Windsor, where it connects to the Katy Trail, to the Kansas City suburb of Pleasant Hill.