Rail-Trail Expansions

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Thanks to Lorraine Chow at EcoWatch for this update on the longest rail-trail conversion in the USA, linking St. Louis to Kansas City:

You can now walk or cycle across most of the state of Missouri. Gov. Jay Nixon has opened a 47.5-mile extension to the Katy Trail, effectively creating one continuous hike-and-bike path from the St. Louis area to the outskirts of Kansas City.

rail-trail2“You’ll be able to go 287 miles on an incredible asset,” Nixon told the Kansas City Star at the ribbon-cutting on Dec. 10 in Pleasant Hill, a suburb just south of Kansas City.

According to the governor’s office, the new section of the trail follows the corridor of the old Rock Island Railroad for 47.5 miles from Pleasant Hill to Windsor, where a junction connects to the rest of the Katy Trail State Park.

At 287 miles, the Katy Trail is now officially the nation’s longest rails-to-trails project, besting the 253-mile John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Washington state. Rail-trails are ideal because it converts unused or abandoned rail corridors into recreational areas for the public. The Katy Trail sits on the former Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad.

Tyler Month, vice-president of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, told radio station KCUR that the new stretch of the Katy Trail acts like a bridge to smaller communities.

“We’re off the beaten path as far as highways go,” Month said, “so this attracts a different group of organizations and individuals to our town that would not have otherwise come here.”…

Read the whole story here.

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