By John Sharp
Construction has resumed on the 7.1-mile northern section of the Rock Island Trail that will run from Brickyard Rd. south of Missouri Highway 350 near Noland Rd. to the Jackson County Sports Complex.
Jackson County had asked its contractors to temporarily halt construction after the federal Surface Transportation Board in late July revoked the County’s right to the former Rock Island Railroad corridor which it purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad with the intent to construct a walking and biking trail and preserve the corridor for possible future use for public transit such as light rail or commuter rail passenger surface.
However, lawsuits by adjacent property owners challenged the method the County used to acquire the corridor and raised questions about how the County could fulfill its commitment to maintain the corridor for possible future rail use when the first 6.4-mile southern section of the trail from Brickyard Rd. to Lee’s Summit that officially opened for use on June 1 was built on top of the old rail bed after removing the railroad ties and tracks.
In announcing resumption of construction August 5, the County issued a statement noting that, “Moving forward, no rail, ties or other track materials will be removed from the rail bed.”
When the southern section of the trail opened, Matt Davis, Rock Island program manager for Jackson County Parks + Rec., said that since some form of mass transit is likely to be built sooner in the northern section of the trail corridor than in the southern section, the rail bed in the northern section will be reserved for that with the trail constructed from scratch adjacent to it.