The Rock Island Trail took a major step forward last month as the Surface Transportation Board approved the proposal by Ameren to transfer the rail line to Missouri State Parks to become a trail.

The Rock Island Trail took a major step forward last month as the Surface Transportation Board approved the proposal by Ameren to transfer the rail line to Missouri State Parks to become a trail.
The decision came Feb. 26 for the 145-mile portion of the trail from Windsor and Beaufort, plus a small section, about 0.6-mile, near Pleasant Hill.
The Missouri State Parks and Ameren have 90 days from Feb. 26 to complete a trail use agreement and forward it to the board for approval.
A previously railbanked portion of about 48 miles of the Rock Island Trail from Pleasant Hill to Windsor was the result of a Taum Sauk settlement with Ameren and Missouri State Parks. Salvage work and trail construction is currently underway on this section.
The 48-mile segment of the Rock Island Trail from Pleasant Hill to Windsor is where the Rock Island Trail will connect to the Katy Trail, a 240-mile trail.
A 24.8-mile section of the Rock Island Trail from Pleasant Hill to Kansas City is currently in negotiations for purchase from Union Pacific and local municipalities. If completed, the total length of the Rock Island Trail would be about 216 miles from Kansas City to Beaufort.
The proposal for the 145-mile portion was submitted to the board in December 2014, and the board solicited public comments, receiving a detailed comment in opposition to the railbanking proposal from the Missouri Farm Bureau and detailed comment in support of the trail proposal from the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation and the Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc.
"As a Rock Island neighbor myself, I can tell you that this trail is going to be a major step forward for communities along the Rock Island line," said Brent Hugh, executive director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation.
"We are very pleased that Ameren, Missouri State Parks and communities along the Rock Island line have been able to work together to come to this point," said Hugh. "The Rock Island Trail has the potential to be a major tourist attraction for the region, and a benefit to the communities it passes through."
Warren Wood, Ameren's vice president for external affairs and communications, said, “We see a tremendous opportunity for tourism, outdoor entertainment and economic development for the people and communities along this rail line. If converted to a trail, this would be one of the longest bike trails in the country, and if connected with the Katy Trail would be one of the longest bike trails in the world.”
Wood said Ameren has “received thousands of support letters from people living along the line, people in other states and even from other countries.”