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Nixon sues Dept. of Natural Resources over old bridge

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(KWMU file)
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The Katy Trail passes through St. Charles at Riverfront Park.

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Charles, MO – Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon is suing the state's Department of Natural Resources over its plan to relinquish rights to an unused railroad bridge.

The span crosses the Missouri River in Boonville, near the Katy Trail. The Union Pacific Railroad owns the bridge, and wants to re-use part of it on the Osage river.

But Nixon said the state has a right to it by contract, and if the company dismantles the structure, the trail's legal status could be jeopardized.

"Under the Rails to Trails Act, we're required to keep a continuous trail," Nixon said. "And to lose the ability to have a continuous link, by taking down a bridge, could give rise to significant challenges."

Under the federal law, the railroad could rebuild train tracks on the Katy Trail if it wanted to.

But Nixon's fear is that landowners along the trail would sue to get their land back.

However DNR Director Doyle Childers said the right of way would remain, even if the bridge doesn't.

"The right of way is still there," Childers said. "If that road bed of the old railroad was washed out somewhere down through there, just because that road bed vanished, doesn't mean the trail is suddenly severed and is not operable."

Childers said the Attorney General's action is simply a political stunt.

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