While 47 miles of the corridor between Pleasant Hill and Windsor have already been developed and a 17-mile stretch from near Pleasant Hill to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City is under construction, the future of 144 miles of the former rail line across mid-Missouri hangs in the balance.

The economic future of communities across Missouri relies on a decision that will be made by state officials in coming weeks.

The state of Missouri must accept the gift of the old Rock Island rail corridor that runs from Kansas City to near St. Louis later this year. An online poll is being taken to provide input on acceptance. You can express your support for the Rock Island Trail at MOStateParks.com or directly at www.surveymonkey.com/r/YRQX56F.

While 47 miles of the corridor between Pleasant Hill and Windsor have already been developed and a 17-mile stretch from near Pleasant Hill to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City is under construction, the future of 144 miles of the former rail line across mid-Missouri hangs in the balance.

Development of a recreational trail on the corridor has been in the evaluation and planning stage at the state level for more than a decade.

The current owner of the corridor, a railroad subsidiary of Ameren Missouri, is prepared to gift the state the line. If accepted by the state and developed into a recreational trail, the Rock Island would once again bring prosperity to central Missouri communities.If not, the future will hold more of the decades of decline the towns have experienced since the trains stopped running.

More than 30 miles of the corridor lies within the city limits of towns along the line with 90 miles running along highways providing safe transportation alternatives for everyone from kids walking to school to horseback riders.

Signs of the coming boom are evident all along the corridor. Public meetings to discuss the trail’s potential in Stover and Barnett have drawn outsized crowds. The mayor of Versailles says his town is excited about what he and others believe the trail will do for their town. In Eldon, Bland, Gerald and elsewhere people are buying up property and building businesses in anticipation of the visitors the trail will come to town.

The dramatic growth in business and tourism in towns like Windsor and Leeton where the Rock Island has already reached along with decades of growth in towns along the Katy Trail prove that there is value for the people of central Missouri in trail development.

Addition of the next 144 miles of the Rock Island linked to the 250 miles of the Katy Trail will give Missouri an extraordinary circuit trail system and a world-class draw for bicyclists and tourists from around the world.

But only if the governor gets on board this economic locomotive.

Voice your support, take the poll at MOStateParks.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/YRQX56F and let officials know that Missouri needs the Rock Island Trail.