MKT Trail bridges being replaced
COLUMBIA- The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department is replacing wooden bridges on the MKT trail.
In 2013, the MKT bridge engineering study report recommended the bridges be replaced.
The department started construction on bridges 5 and 7 just three weeks ago. If it has enough funding, it will also replace bridge 8.
Park Planning and Development Superintendent Mike Snyder says the bridges are still safe for public use.
"They are old railroad bridges they were designed to carry 100 tons or more," Snyder said. "The problem is we have to also get gravel trucks up and down the trail and the bridges need to be able to hold ambulances in case they need to reach somebody."
The work will force the trail from east side of the 3M wetlands to just west of the Stadium Drive underpass to close.
The construction is scheduled to begin on November 27 and the department hopes to be finished by April 2018.
The MKT Trail is the back-bone of Columbia’s trail system. This 8.9-mile trail connects Columbia with the Katy Trail State Park, which is the longest rail trail in the United States and extends over 200 miles from St. Charles in eastern Missouri to Clinton in western Missouri.
Railroad historian John Wilke said the railroad was abandoned after a fire to the track.
“A fire heavily damaged what is known as the number five bridge that is being replaced now,” Wilke said.
In 1978, a year after the line was dissolved, Columbia parks and rec purchased the land for $240,000.
“The MKT railroad was the first, if not one of the first demonstration projects where the rails to trails law was implemented,” Wilke said.
26 years later, Wilke said it was a smooth transition from the railroad to one of Columbia’s most pertinent fitness trails.
“The railroad provided transportation infrastructure, now the MKT trail is the crown jewel of the Columbia trail system,” Wilke said.
The city has a full list of alternate routes on its website while a portion of the trail is closed.