Rock Island Line Corridor

This website serves as a portal for information as Missouri State Parks evaluates the former Rock Island line as a potential rail-trail project.

Information will be updated as it becomes available. 

Frequently Asked Questions

This information is for general information purposes only and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

1. What is the Rock Island corridor?

2. Who is the current owner of the corridor?

3. What is the current status of the corridor?

4. How could the corridor be transferred to Missouri State Parks for the purpose of making it into a trail?

5. Is there a deadline for the parties to conclude negotiations regarding the corridor?

6. Why is Missouri State Parks taking so much time to make a decision regarding the corridor?

7. How much will it cost to build the 144 miles of trail?

8. Could Missouri State Parks build the trail in sections over the years, similar to the Katy Trail?

9. Where will the money come from to build the trail?

10. How much will it cost to operate the trail annually?

11. How would Missouri State Parks address fencing needs for private property along the trail?

12. I farm on both sides of the tracks. How do I get my livestock and farm equipment across the trail?

13. Will private crossings still exist?

14. What if someone comes onto my property?

1. What is the Rock Island corridor?
The Rock Island Corridor is a 144.3 mile section of the former Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad that runs from Windsor, Missouri, to Beaufort, Missouri.

2. Who is the current owner of the corridor?
It is owned by Missouri Central Railroad, a subsidiary of Ameren.

3. What is the current status of the corridor?
In 2014, Missouri Central Railroad began the process to abandon the line in two segments:

(1) between mileposts 263.5 and 262.906 near Pleasant Hill, in Cass County, Missouri;
(2) and between milepost 215.325 near Windsor, in Pettis County, Missouri, and milepost 71.6 near Beaufort, in Franklin County, Missouri.

Missouri Central Railroad is currently conducting salvage operations in the corridor.

4. How could the corridor be transferred to Missouri State Parks for the purpose of making it into a trail?
The National Trails System Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1247(d) and 49 C.F.R. § 1152.29, established a process known as “railbanking.” Railbanking is a voluntary agreement between a railroad company and a trail agency to use an out-of-service corridor as a trail until a railroad might need the corridor again for rail service. Because a railbanked corridor is not considered abandoned, it can be sold, leased or donated to a trail manager.

In response to a request submitted by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR), with concurrence from Missouri Central Railroad, the Surface Transportation Board, a federal adjudicatory board responsible for economic regulatory oversight of railroads, issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use on Feb. 25, 2015.

The Notice of Interim Trail Use authorized MoDNR to negotiate with Missouri Central Railroad for acquisition of the right-of-way for use as a trail under the National Trails System Act. Should the parties conclude negotiations, MoDNR and the railroad may sign an Interim Trail Use Agreement, and Missouri State Parks, a division of MoDNR, would then be responsible for managing the railbanked corridor as a new state park trail.

5. Is there a deadline for the parties to conclude negotiations regarding the corridor?
The current Notice of Interim Trail Use requires the parties to conclude negotiations by Feb. 21, 2018. However, the parties could request an extension from the Surface Transportation Board if more time is needed to continue negotiations.

6. Why is Missouri State Parks taking so much time to make a decision regarding the corridor?
Missouri Central Railroad has not yet completed salvage of the rails and ties, and Missouri State Parks intends to complete due diligence procedures, which entails examining the state of title, surveying the property, assessing the integrity of the structures within the corridor, and conducting an environmental assessment of the corridor.

The conversion of the corridor into a trail stands to be a significant undertaking, and it is essential to gain a further understanding of the costs, liabilities, and benefits of this potential project. Additionally, as has been the experience with the Katy Trail, the development of a trail and its ongoing operation and maintenance is a large responsibility that requires significant financial resources. The project may also require additional funding sources that have yet to be identified.

7. How much will it cost to build the 144 miles of trail?
According to the experience and figures gathered from the construction of the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail in 2016, the preliminary estimate by Missouri State Parks is that it could cost between $65 million and $85 million to fully complete the trail. However, these are only initial estimates, and more accurate figures will not be available until Missouri State Parks can complete its due diligence.

8. Could Missouri State Parks build the trail in sections over the years, similar to the Katy Trail?
Yes. It would not be possible to develop the trail all at once. Development of the trail would have to occur in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor has different features and challenges.

9. Where will the money come from to build the trail?
Missouri State Parks has not yet identified the resources necessary to build the trail. The funding needs of this project will certainly require additional parties (private, public, corporate) to make a substantial financial commitment. Finding a funding solution is a significant factor in the decision-making process.

10. How much will it cost to operate the trail annually?
Based upon the current operation costs of the Katy Trail and the Rock Island Spur of the Katy Trail, we estimate that it could cost $576,000 ($4,000 per mile/per year) to operate a new trail.

11. How would Missouri State Parks address fencing needs for private property along the trail?
If MoDNR signs an Interim Trail Use Agreement, as has been the practice on the Katy Trail, it is the intent of Missouri State Parks to work cooperatively with adjacent landowners along the corridor. The division has provided fencing material to adjacent landowners along the Katy Trail upon request (t-posts and wire), with landowners assuming responsibility for installation and maintenance of the fence.

12. I farm on both sides of the tracks. How do I get my livestock and farm equipment across the trail?
Missouri State Parks has entered into agreements with adjacent landowners to accommodate these types of requests along the Katy Trail and would work with landowners along the Rock Island corridor as well, should it be established as a trail.

13. Will private crossings still exist?
Yes. If MoDNR signs the Interim Trail Use Agreement, Missouri State Parks will honor any existing real estate agreements between landowners and Missouri Central Railroad. It would also work with landowners to develop new license agreements to allow private crossings where needed.

14. What if someone comes onto my property?
Missouri State Parks takes seriously the concerns of adjacent landowners, especially with respect to the potential for intrusion onto private property. Missouri statutes provide protections to landowners adjacent to recreational trails. In addition to statutory protections, Missouri State Parks has worked cooperatively with landowners adjacent to Katy Trail State Park to help minimize the likelihood for trespass from the trail onto adjoining property. This was accomplished primarily by marking the boundaries of state park property with signs placed at regular intervals, which also warn trail users not to trespass. This message is also provided via signage and brochures at all trailhead information depots. If the corridor is developed, Missouri State Parks will develop similar measures.

Links of Interest

Surface Transportation Board
The Surface Transportation Board is an independent adjudicatory and economic-regulatory agency charged by Congress with resolving railroad rate and service disputes and reviewing proposed railroad mergers.

Surface Transportation Board Docket Search
Enter Docket No. AB-1068 (Sub-No. 3X) (Missouri Central Railroad Company- Abandonment Exemption- In Cass, Pettis, Benton, Morgan, Miller, Cole, Osage, Maries, Gasconade, and Franklin Counties, Missouri) to find specific information related to the Rock Island Line Corridor.

Katy Trail State Park
Built on the former corridor of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT or Katy), the park is 240 miles long and runs between Clinton and Machens with 26 trailheads and four fully restored railroad depots along the way.

Public Comments

Survey Responses

The following 8,685 comments were gathered during a public comment period, which ended August 31, 2017. These comments do not reflect the opinion of the State of Missouri or the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, nor are these entities responsible for the content or the factual accuracy of the comments. The responses have not been edited or otherwise altered, except to remove names and other identifying statements, and potentially offensive language. The public comments were provided in response to the following question:

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering entering into an Interim Trail Use Agreement with Missouri Central Railroad for the purpose of developing the Rock Island Trail Project, a conversion of the former Rock Island Railroad corridor into a 144.3 mile long recreational trail from Windsor, MO, to Beaufort, MO.

Please provide your thoughts, comments, and suggestions regarding DNR entering into an Interim Trail Use Agreement and the Rock Island Trail Project.

RILC_Comments_Aug2017.pdf (This PDF file is approx. 3MB.)

Organization/Public Entity Comment Letters

The following letters were submitted by cities or organizations in reference to the Rock Island Line Corridor. These letters do not reflect the opinion of the State of Missouri or the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of State Parks, nor are these entities responsible for the content or the factual accuracy of the information contained in the letters. The letters have not been edited or otherwise altered.

March 16, 2017 - City of Springfield

May 11, 2017 - City of Rolla

June 23, 2017 - City of Chesterfield

June 28, 2017 - Spirit Trail Coalition / Johnson County Commission

August 3, 2017 - City of Owensville

August 18, 2017 - Adventure Cycling Association

August 24, 2017 - Missouri Farm Bureau Federation

August 28, 2017 - City of Warsaw

August 29, 2017 - Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission