Boonville Lift Bridge Makes Comeback

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BOONVILLE - The City of Boonville now owns a dormant 81-year-old lift bridge that spans the Missouri River and was once the longest of its kind in the United States.

The city announced Tuesday that the bridge, which once carried the Missouri, Kansas & Texas (MKT) railroad and Katy Trail State Park, will be refurbished and will once again carry the MKT trail. The city will work in collaboration with the Katy Bridge Coalition, a non-profit group that has advocated to save the bridge since 2005.

The coalition changed its name recently, as it was once known as the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition. Paula Shannon, who spoke for the coalition Tuesday, said obtaining the bridge was a big enough victory for the organization to warrant the name change.

The city obtained the bridge from Union Pacific and was cleared to make a deal with the railroad company in July after receiving approval from the Surface Transportation Board, an adjudication board overseen by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The coalition said it has worked with a number of engineering firms on re-development proposals over the last five years, but has settled with New York-based Hardesty and Hanover LLP. The firm designed the first vertical lift bridge in the United States in 1894.

Shannon said the project will be completed in four phases. The first phase will begin on the south side of the bridge near the Isle of Capri Casino. Then the project will move on to fix the lift span, which will once again become operational. The third phase will refurbish the north side of the span. The fourth phase will re-route the MKT trail across the bridge.

Several state and local officials attended a news conference Tuesday at the Katy Depot in Boonville, as Shannon said saving the bridge has been as much a statewide vision as it was local. Missouri State Parks Director Bill Bryan delivered a statement by Gov. Jay Nixon, who took legal action as Attorney General in 2005 to prevent Union Pacific from removing part of the bridge.

Former Columbia mayor Darwin Hindman said, "This is going to benefit the citizens of Boonville in ways we have not even thought of, as well as the ways we have thought of, and the state of Missouri for years to come."