COLUMBIA – Columbia riders and other park users are already familiar with the deterioration of two bridges along the city's MKT Trail. As mentioned previously in the Missourian, the city earlier identified three bridges that needed to be replaced, but two of them haven't seen any work.
Last Friday, Mayor Darwin Hindman and Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala toured the section of trail where Bridges 12 and 13 stand. According to the Parks and Recreation Department, the condition of the bridges has made them inaccessible to vehicles, including emergency vehicles. The department also warned that if Bridge 13 deteriorates further, it will have to be closed completely, cutting off access to a portion of the trail.
There are issues with replacing the bridges. Since they are so old, they are considered historical structures, and ideally they would be left intact with new support added underneath. But engineers said that wouldn't effectively fix the problem. A more reasonable plan is to build entirely new bridges, but that would be expensive. In June, estimates put the cost of this plan at approximately $500,000.
The city already uses a 1/8-cent park sales tax designed to fund projects like this, which will cover the expenses not met by a trails program grant the city received.
What's most important to you in preserving the appearance and function of the MKT Trail?