Gov. Nixon joins Ameren to announce progress on future hiking and biking trail across mid-Missouri, as well as record state park attendance in 2016

A 144-mile stretch of the former Rock Island rail line from Windsor to Beaufort is on track to be transferred to the State of Missouri by the end of 2017 for future development as a hiking and biking trail.

Once developed, Rock Island Trail State Park will offer hikers and cyclists an opportunity to experience beautiful scenery and landscapes and further strengthen Missouri’s outdoor economy.

“This new trail will bolster Missouri’s position as the nation’s premier hiking and biking destination – and strengthen local economies all along its path,” said Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. “I want to thank Ameren for its outstanding corporate citizenship and for partnering with us to create a new outdoor asset that Missouri families and visitors to the Show-Me State will enjoy for generations to come.”

“The Rock Island rail line is a tremendous opportunity to create a world-class hiking and biking trail for Missouri that will boost tourism and stimulate economic development for communities along the line,” said Michael Moehn, president, Ameren Missouri.

“As a community partner in the transformation of the line, we have been working for years to complete vegetation and salvage efforts and aim to transfer the property to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in 2017.”

The Rock Island rail line has not been in operation for more than two decades and was purchased by Ameren in 1999. Operations to remove and salvage rail from the line are expected to be complete by the end of 2017, at which point the property will be transferred to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Once the property is transferred, the trail will take a number of years to complete.

Missouri trails and state parks are important drivers of tourism and economic activity. An economic impact study found that visitors to state parks produced an overall economic impact of $1.02 billion and supported more than 14,000 Missouri jobs.

Another study found that Katy Trail State Park alone generates nearly $18.5 million a year in economic impact for the state, supports 367 jobs, and makes an overall economic impact of $8.2 million to the local trail communities.

In July 2016, Nixon dedicated Echo Bluff State Park in Shannon County. The new park has not only brought in more than 300,000 visitors during its first five months of operation, it has also become a driver of the local economy, both through the construction jobs at the park site before it opened as well as the dozens of jobs needed to staff the park.