About a half mile west of the junction of Noland and Colbern Roads is a turn to the south on to the road to Vale. Currently along the road there are a couple of large business properties doing light manufacturing. Until at least the '70s there were abandoned frame buildings and an old brick building, perhaps a store, at the end of the road. Only its floor remains. At the end of the road you cross the track and meet with an easement running south. Roughly a half mile along this easement you reach the Little Blue River and on the left is the bridge. There is a raised embankment to the west of the easement where there may have been a couple of sidings years ago if old maps can be relied on. If instead of heading south you turn north, it's roughly a half mile to the Vale Tunnel.
This line passes through Raytown to the north and according to one Raytown history website, it reached the city in 1903. The last paint date on the bridge is 6-56 and an older date might be a 23.
This rail line was inactivated in the early '80s but has not been abandoned. There was controversy some years ago over whether trains could ever run on this line again. Residences had been built adjacent to the track and the city of Raytown even cut through the grade to realign a road to bypass a narrow underpass. In 1998 the federal Surface Transportation Board ruled that the line was still railroad property and could be used to operate trains in the future. Hence this line is referred to as "inactive" rather than "abandoned". See: http://members.tripod.com/mo_central_rail/stb.html
The condition of the rail between this bridge and Vale is terrible. This area floods and it appears that much of the ballast and a number of ties have washed away. The rail itself appears usable but some has come loose and tipped over. Other sections are unsupported for several feet where ties and ballast are gone.
This rail line enters Jackson County from Pleasant Hill to the south, passes through Greenwood, then to the west of Lee's Summit, and through Raytown before joining the yards at Leeds. The Vale tunnel and several of the bridges along the line probably date to the opening of the line.
Actually, Ameren Electric Company owns the line up Pleasant Hill, not Lee's Summit. The part from Pleasant Hill, east to the KATY Trail will be a rail trail as an access to the area. Part of the line has been pulled up as of mid 2011. The line east (north) to Kansas City (via Lee's Summit and Raytown) is still owned by the UP. There is current talks of a possibility of reopening the KC/P-Hill part for light rail, but that remains to be seen.
Ameren Electric Company owns this line up to Lees Summit and they are letting the state build a trail along side these tracks most likely meaning they will restore the tracks from UP's connection to Windsor....how long it will be before a train can run from KC to STL on the line again is unknown but ameren indicated they wanted this to happen. The line feeds their power plant in labadie as well as the lake of the ozarks.
There has been so many rumors on this line being reopened by the Union Pacific. I used to work in Raytown and it was all the buzz when the city removed a bridge to widen a street. Then Lees Summit came into the picture when some home owners got a letter stating that the UP still owned the rail line and they ( home owners ) had built on railroad property. The latest I heard was that the state wanted to purchase the line for some sort of extension of the Katy trail. I think it could be used for some sort of light rail to connect downtown with the sports complex.
is UPRR going to reuse this bridge and line?