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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stimulus Funds Could Save Katy Bridge

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The Missouri Department of Transportation is applying for more than 27 million dollars in stimulus funds to pay for a new steel railroad bridge in Osage City, Mo., local media report. This comes as a relief to many history buffs in Boonville, who fought for the past few years to save the Katy Bridge from demolition.


Months ago, Union Pacific, which owns the Katy Bridge, announced plans to tear down the bridge and recycle the steel to build the new bridge over the Osage River. MODOT officials say this was before anyone knew stimulus funds were an option.

"Union Pacific made this decision before anyone had a clue that we would be able to use money from the government as an alternative. Obviously no one wants to see the bridge crumble. But even if we are granted the stimulus funds, MODOT can not guarantee that the bridge will ultimately be safe," Railway Administrator Rod Massman said.

But members of the Save the Katy Bridge Coalition say they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the bridge stands.

"It will be such a shame for Missouri if this landmark falls. It means so much to Boonville and to Mid-Missouri. It was built years ago and has major historic value," coalition member Jim Bradshaw said.

The Katy Trail Coalition already raised nearly $500,000 dollars in donations to turn the bridge into a pedestrian walkway. That is almost half of what officials estimate the project will cost.

Bradshaw, who used to be a railway switchboard operator for the Katy Bridge, sees himself as the historian of the Coalition. He plasters photography and newspaper clippings of the bridge around his home. Bradshaw says keeping the Katy Bridge intact is a cause worth fighting for.

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