Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Road Less Traveled Katy Needs a Scrubbing, Trail Shops Say

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Road Less Traveled Katy Needs a Scrubbing, Trail Shops Say

Article excerpt

Dave Prough waved a hand at the empty street in front of his crafts shop in the middle of Defiance in St. Charles County and thought of better times.

"It was like heaven," he said. "It was like Branson."

Prough is one of hundreds of entrepreneurs who set up shop on the Katy Trail's 200-mile route across mid-Missouri, hoping for hordes of bikers and hikers.

In 1992, Prough's Trading Company of Defiance exceeded expectations. "We had bike riders all year long," he said. "When you got snow on the trail, we had cross-country skiers."

But floodwater washed those crowds away last spring and summer. And Prough now says another season may be wiped out because the state Department of Natural Resources is not moving fast enough to repair the trail.

A section of the trail that runs from Weldon Spring through Defiance to Augusta is the most widely used, and also the hardest hit by the floods. When the floodwater receded in late August, the trail along Defiance was covered with debris, broken sandbags and holes. Bridges had disappeared.

It remains that way today.

"The last four weekends, we've had people climbing all over the trail, pushing their bikes, carrying their bikes," Prough said Thursday. "We're getting continuous questions, `Why isn't it up and running?' "

Prough said he and other shop owners were considering a volunteer cleanup if the state didn't move more quickly.

"We'll get some farm graders and pick up the sandbags and trash," he said. "The only reason we're holding off is we shouldn't have to do it."

Prough pointed out that Edward D. Jones & Co., a brokerage based in St. Louis, donated $300,000 in August to be used to fix the trail.

"Where is it?" Prough asked. "Why is it taking so long?"

Bill Farrand, deputy parks director, said that the state estimated damages to the trail at $1.5 million and had applied for federal money to repair it. …

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