- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 17, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A proposal to create a 144-mile (231.75 kilometer) biking trail across central Missouri is one step closer to reality, after Ameren Missouri and the Department of Natural Resources reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday.

The proposed Rock Island Line corridor, which would run on land owned by the Missouri Central Railroad Co. would go through nine counties from Beaufort, in Franklin County, to Windsor, in Henry County, and connect with the Katy Trail in Windsor.

The deal would clear the way for an Ameren subsidiary to donate the land to the state but several other requirements must be met first, according to a DNR news release.

The Interim Trail Use Agreement signed Tuesday ensures the former railroad corridor would be preserved for future transportation use and clears the way for the eventual donation of the property to the department.

Before the land could be transferred, supporters would need to raise $9.8 million to help with development, security and management of the trail, according to the DNR. The estimated cost of the trail is between $65 million and $85 million.

The nonprofit Missouri State Parks Foundation will lead the fundraising effort. For now, the land remains the property of Missouri Central and is not open for public use.

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