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Letter to the Editor: Katy Trail is major state asset

Thursday, June 9, 2005

To the editor:

Characterizing the argument over the possible removal of the bridge at Boonville, Mo., as development versus preservation oversimplifies the issue, since the removal of the bridge could threaten the future of the Katy Trail itself, and the trail provides economic benefits for the communities along it as well as for the state generally.

The National Trails System Act, under whose provision the Katy Trail was created, aimed "to preserve established railroad rights of way for future reactivation of rail service" and "to protect rail transportation corridors." The removal of the bridge would create a break in the trail, and property owners along the right of way could argue that since the rail line could not be reactivated, the property should revert to the previous owners. At the very least, the state would be opening itself up to some messy legal challenges.

Having biked the length of the Katy Trail, I have seen how it benefits local businesses from Clinton to St. Charles. On the trail I met people from across the country and overseas. In giving away the bridge, the state would be jeopardizing not just a major recreational asset, but also an international tourist destination.

Obviously politics are involved in the dispute, but I suspect that Gov. Matt Blunt and DNR director Doyle Childers did not stop to consider the potential long-term consequences of their action.

ROBERT ZELLER, Cape Girardeau