Construction begins at Devil's Icebox Trail at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 | 8:08 p.m. CDT
The walkway leading under the Rock Bridge formation has been blocked by a board and construction fencing for two weeks. The deadline for the new path is dependent on crew availability and weather. Once the path is complete, visitors will only be able to go three-quarters of the way under the formation.

COLUMBIA — Improvements have begun for the Devil's Icebox Trail at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park.

A little more than four years ago, a slab of rock from the park's namesake rock bridge collapsed onto the trail running underneath. A previous Missourian article reported that officials from the Department of Natural Resources had closed the portion of the trail affected and set up detours that led visitors around the tunnel.

Two weeks ago, construction crews began working on the second phase of rerouting the trail by installing more than 300 feet of new boardwalk, said Renee Bungart, spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources.

The installation will connect stairs built in 2007 to the existing boardwalk on top of the hill. It will also cover the stone steps that lead to the back of the rock bridge.

Detour signs will be posted during construction. Visitors might need to follow the Springbrook Trail in order to access the existing section of boardwalk leading to Connor's Cave.

The $113,442 project was partially funded by a federal Recreational Trails Program grant of $53,342. The remaining costs were funded by the parks, soils and water sales tax.

A second project is included in this cost. The Department of Natural Resources plans to stabilize the bank of the Devil's Icebox Spring Branch, the creek that flows out of the rock bridge. During this project, visitors will access the rock bridge by taking a detour through the Sinkhole Trail, which begins south of the parking lot.

Since both projects depend on weather and crew availability, there is no set completion date, Bungart said.

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