Rock Island corridor bridge inspections scheduled Thursday

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 9/16/20

Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc (MoRIT) officials were awarded a $20,000 project funding grant that will be used to inspect bridges along the Rock Island corridor and create design plans for future …

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Rock Island corridor bridge inspections scheduled Thursday

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Missouri Rock Island Trail, Inc (MoRIT) officials were awarded a $20,000 project funding grant that will be used to inspect bridges along the Rock Island corridor and create design plans for future trail use, according to Greg Harris, the group’s executive director.

“We’re excited to announce that inspectors will be on the Soap Creek Trestle and Old Highway 50 bridge (this) week!” Harris said in a press release. “Those bridges are located west of Rosebud and east of Gerald, respectively.”

MoRIT applied for and was awarded the Doppelt Grant for $20,000 in project funding administered by the Rails To Trails Conservancy to have two bridges inspected. Inspections are scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17.

“We are real excited to move this forward and are looking forward to making this happen,” Harris said Tuesday morning. “The whole point of the project is to get the process moving on the bridges. You can’t have them for trail use until you have them inspected. We got this grant to fund the bridge inspection and engineering design.”

The inspection group, TWM, was one of six groups that submitted bids and design plan costs to inspect the bridges. They were also the engineers for the first 47 miles of the Rock Island Trail - Katy Spur that opened in 2016 between Pleasant Hill and Windsor. Their report is due Oct. 23.

Missouri State Parks has been trying to acquire the Rock Island Corridor since 1992, according to Harris.

“Missouri State Parks has made comments to the effect of ‘how bad do Missourians want the trail? If they really want it, they will come up with $9 million dollars in unallocated funds,’” Harris said. “We could counter with, ‘this is State Parks last chance to have the Rock Island as a state park versus something else.’”

Last December, Missouri State Parks signed an agreement that they would accept the trail if it came with $9 million dollars in unallocated funds. Missouri State Parks has 15 months — until Dec. 31, 2021, to determine if the Rock Island corridor will be a state park.

Harris argues that it is easier to ask people to donate to a specific aspect of the trail than to donate unallocated funds.

“It’s easier to say, ‘look at this magnificent structure, convertible to a recreational trail bridge. Wouldn’t you want your name on it for hundreds of thousands of people to see every year?’” Harris said about asking people for unallocated donations to the project. “I am glad I don’t have to explain that to people.”

Missouri State Parks has the Missouri State Parks Rock Island Trail Foundation that hired a professional fundraising group to help raise the $9 million dollars, but doesn’t know what they have raised so far.

“The foundation campaign now has cabinet members to help raise major gifts,” Harris said. “Very often those people will be engaged in making gifts as well as securing them. They met a couple of weeks ago.”

The MoRIT group provided the cabinet members with a list of prospective people who may be interested in donating toward the trail. Harris said in a project like this, donors tend to give $50,000 to $5 million per donor.

Harris added that many have asked how MoRIT has fared during COVID-19.

“We did get a PPP loan to cover two-and-a-half months of payroll costs that we expect will be forgiven,” Harris said. “Sometimes progress seems slow, but we keep plugging along because of all of you who continue to support our efforts to preserve the 144 mile corridor through your membership and gifts.”

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