|MOFB opposes conversion of the Rock Island rail line to a recreational trail. |
Pending authorization by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB), the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Missouri Central Railroad Company, owned by Ameren, plan to enter into negotiations to convert the Rock Island rail line between Windsor and Beaufort into a recreational trail. This nearly 145-mile stretch of the rail corridor through Cass, Pettis, Benton, Morgan, Miller, Cole, Osage, Maries, Gasconade and Franklin Counties connects at the western end with a segment already approved for trail use.
Based on longstanding policy updated by voting delegates at Missouri Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in December, MFB opposes conversion of the Rock Island rail line to a recreational trail. Under the National Trails Act, when a railroad proposes to abandon a rail line, if a public or private entity agrees to “preserve” the rail corridor by converting it to recreational use on an “interim” basis, negotiations between the railroad and potential trail sponsor must be authorized by the STB.
In December MFB filed written comments requesting that the STB: (1) conduct public hearings locally; (2) grant a stay to allow time for further review and comment by local citizens; and (3) if no stay is granted, hold any decision regarding public use/interim trail use until issues of concern raised by MFB are addressed. On January 6 the STB approved the proposed abandonment, prohibited removal of rails and other salvage work pending further review, and postponed decisions regarding MFB’s requests, including public use/interim trail use.
In a separate action, the Arent Fox law firm is representing adjoining landowners and will file claims for damages under the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires the federal government provide just compensation for taking private property. To participate, landowners must request that Arent Fox file a claim on their behalf. The lawsuit only seeks to secure compensation for damages, not support nor oppose the proposed trail.
For the official “Request for Public Use Condition and Trail Use” document from the Surface Transportation Board, go to www.stb.dot.gov and search for docket number AB_1068_3_X and download a PDF version of the file. You can also view by date (December 31, 2014) and scroll down to the docket number. For information from Arent Fox, go to www.federaltakings.com and select “Missouri.”
Find more information at mofb.org/LegislativeIssuesPolicies.aspx.