JEFFERSON CITY — Funding for the Rock Island Trail will be debated by the full House this week after winning approval from the House Budget Committee.

House Bill 3020 would allocate roughly $70.7 million to the development of the hiking and biking trail. The grand total would eventually be more, and the development work would be spread out over time.

“An estimated total of $100 million will ultimately be needed to fully develop the trail,” Kelli Jones, Gov. Mike Parson’s communications director, said in an email. “Development of the trail will occur in sections over several years, as each section of the corridor has different features and challenges.”

A 78-mile stretch of the rail-to-trail state park system from Eugene to Beaufort is projected to be the most expensive and difficult to renovate. This stretch would receive renovations first.

Jones said the governor’s office “selected this section of the Rock Island corridor because it will be the most challenging section to develop with three tunnels and two large bridges.”

Missouri State Parks would take responsibility for fencing along the trail and would maintain fences that go between the trail and adjacent property. New fencing would also be provided by the department if requested by a landowner. Forms are available to make these requests.

The city of Eldon just misses out on its portion of the Rock Island corridor being developed. Mayor Trevor Vernon said this is disappointing but that the city remains excited.

“(Eldon) will be ready whenever it gets here … We know we’re right in the middle,” Vernon said. “City Council OK’d applying for a grant to start working on the trail and trailhead inside the city limits.”

Rep. Bruce Sassmann, R-Bland, whose district is along the corridor, said the development would bring a lot of potential, but the cities must utilize it well.

“The value of the trail will depend upon the community that it passes through and how much the community wants to identify with the trail,” Sassmann said. “… I’m excited for these communities. This will add another thread into the fabric and quality of life in these small towns.”

Upon completion, the Rock Island Trail would be the second rail-to-trail system in Missouri, joining the Katy Trail.

Parson proposed using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to develop the new trail. The bill to fund the development was passed out of committee last week. The Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation encouraged members to thank the committee for passing the bill with Parson’s recommended amount in full.

The bill still requires approval by the House before being sent to the Senate.

https://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/rock-island-trail-renovations-headed-to-house-for-debate/article_11c890da-7f16-11ec-925e-f7fca9eda137.html