A 6.4-mile section of the Rock Island railroad corridor opened to recreational users on June 1, moving a few miles closer to the vision of a new cross-state trail.

The Rock Island Rail Corridor on the east side of Kansas City is being constructed in two phases: the recently opened Phase One stretches north from Lee’s Summit toward Raytown, Missouri. Construction on the 7-mile Phase Two, running from Raytown to the Truman Sports Complex, is expected to be complete in late 2020 or 2021.

Project Manager Matt Davis with the Jackson County Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority said users have commented on the mature trees, shaded trail, old bridges, and the 441-foot Vale Tunnel.

Davis added that he recently met some trail users from Illinois. “They were on vacation and had come out to ride our trails,” he said. “It’s exciting that we’re already drawing in people from out of state.”

The Rock Island Trail Authority continues working to develop the so-called “Greenwood Gap” that would create a connector trail between Lee’s Summit and the 47-mile Rock Island Spur that starts near Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and continues to Windsor, where it intersects with the Katy Trail.

Author: Kristi Mayo is a contributor to Terrain Magazine.