A mile-long portion of the Katy Trail between Griessen Road and Boonville Avenue is being torn out, exposing the railroad track beneath, in an agreement for use with a commercial property, once known as Alcolac, and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
According to DNR, “the Alcolac site is located on approximately 227.78 acres at 24732 Randall Rd. in Sedalia. In 1977, Alcolac began operating a specialty chemicals manufacturing facility at the site. Alcolac was acquired by RTZ Corp. in the 1980s and later purchased by Rhone-Poulenc SA in 1989. In 1999, Rhone-Poulenc spun Rhodia Inc. off as a new company. Alcolac is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rhodia Inc.”
Pettis County Eastern Commissioner Brent Hampy said in a telephone interview Friday from Phoenix, Arizona, that a new owner wants to refurbish the vacant buildings on the property, which needs the railroad spur connected to Katy Trail State Park.
“The Alcolac plant sold some time ago,” Hampy said. “The current owner is looking to put it on the market so he’s fixing up the property. One of the things that makes the commercial property attractive, is that if you want a business that needs to be rail-served, is that there is a rail spur that goes to the property.
“The situation with the DNR is that they agreed to temporarily use that section of the rail as the Katy Trail, knowing that someday it would go back to rail should it be needed for the property,” he added. “Now what’s happened, is the DNR is being asked to open up the rail option again. So, the Katy Trail is stopping at Griessen and coming across to Engineer (Avenue) …”
He noted that the DNR called him in fall 2016 and asked if they could make that change to the trail and wanted to use that particular part of Griessen Road as the trail.
“Griessen is a rather heavily-traveled road,” Hampy said. “So, it doesn’t lend itself very well to being a bike trail.”
He noted that he told them they would be responsible for any accidents that occurred due to the change in the trail’s route.
“I think they have gone and painted a sign and maybe painted some markings on the road,” he said. “I told them they could use Griessen for one year, because they have known about needing to revert the rail spur back to rail for over a year. They had not moved to address the issue until they were forced to.
“What we assumed they would do, was build another hiking trail beside the rail spur,” he added. “They have not done that, they have not committed the money to do that, which I think they should.”
Hampy said he hopes within the year DNR will rebuild the trail near its original path. He noted that there were options. If the person who buys the property decides they don’t need the rail spur, the trail could resume its original course from Griessen Road to Boonville Avenue.
“The rail right-of-way is 100 feet wide,” Hampy said. “We have had conversations with DNR about if they could possibly acquire the right to use 25 feet of one side of that and build a hiking trail on that 100 foot right-of-way.”
He added that the conversations would have to take place with the owners of the property also.
“That’s an option that they might want to look at,” Hampy said.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.