Agreement preserves historic Boonville bridge

After years of debate, the historic MKT Railroad Bridge in Boonville will soon be part of the Katy Trail State Park.

A deal has been struck to save the old railroad lift bridge.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that Union Pacific Railroad has agreed to give the bridge to Boonville.

City officials hope to convert it for use by bicyclists and hikers.

The 78-year-old bridge hasn't seen a train in a couple decades, but has been the subject of a 5-year battle in the courts and regulatory agencies.

We have saved the bridge and opened up economic and recreational opportunities for Central Missouri and to the world," Nixon said. "We TMve also increased the ability to move goods across the State of Missouri.

The bridge is the centerpiece of our developing cultural heritage tourism endeavor," Boonville economic development director Sarah Gallagher said. "This bridge brings something for everyone, from eagle watchers to engineers. Then, there are the thousands of bike riders who will experience and enjoy crossing the Missouri river on the authentic Missouri River crossing for the Katy Trail.

Union Pacific had planned to tear the old bridge down and re-use the steel for a railroad bridge over the Osage River east of Jefferson City.

Last week, Missouri received $31 million in federal stimulus money to help build that new Osage River Bridge.

That allowed Union Pacific to give away the old Katy Bridge to the City of Boonville.