Pioneer Bridges Along the Katy Trail


New Steel Bridges from Pioneer Bridges keep the Katy Trail Connected


Five new steel bridges from Pioneer Bridges keep the Katy Trail connected over the ravines and waterways that lead to the Missouri River. This 237-mile long trail weaves through the woodlands, grasslands, and along Missouri’s waterways between Clifton and Machen, Missouri. The Katy Trail is a fast growing favorite with cyclists, walkers, and destination travelers.


The Katy Trail was created when the state took ownership of the old railroad pathway and converted it to what is commonly referred to as rails to trails. The railroad tracks were pulled, a wide trail was installed, and a new travel industry was born. And, happens to be booming as the Katy Trail gains in popularity with adventure travelers.


Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail

Increasing Business for Local Businesses


“People come all over the country to do the Katy trail,” says Chris Locher, project manager with KJ Unnerstall Construction, the company that oversaw the installation of five steel bridges from Pioneer Bridges. “Along the trail are campgrounds, restaurants, and shops.”


The popularity of the trail is growing thanks to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s and Missouri State Park’s dedication in promoting the trail as a travel destination. Kiosks along the trail help visitors discover events, festivals, and places to see in the area.


From local people taking a bike ride on a Saturday afternoon, to avid cyclists making the journey from the Carolinas to Missouri just to ride the trail, the Katy Trail is quickly becoming a sought after travel destination.


Making Rails to Trails


With the rails to trails process came the need to replace the old timber bridges with new steel bridges from Pioneer Bridges. While each steel bridge is 12 feet wide the lengths vary: Marthasville is 95 feet, Rhineland is 80 feet, Wilton is 98 feet, Providence is 75 feet, and Gore is 129 feet in length.


Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail                           Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail                          Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail


“We went with Pioneer Bridges because they were very competitive,” says Locher. “We even called them during the bidding process to make sure that they were okay with the bid. Gil was really good to work with. He flew in for the preconstruction meeting and then came back and was onsite the day of the first installation to answer any of our questions.”


The window was tight for installing the bridges due to the constant stream of events along the Katy Trail such as Race Across America and the high daily use of the trail. With the coordinate help from Pioneer Bridges the installations went quickly. The Providence and Wilton steel bridges were installed in a short window from the third week of August to the first of September. Rhineland, Gore, and Marthasville were then installed in December.

Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail

To keep with the rustic look and feel of the trail the finish on the bridges is weathering steel. The decking on the steel bridge is concrete poured over steel pan decking. The abutment is poured concrete and a gravel path leads up to the edge of the bridge.




Since the decking is poured concrete and you can’t walk on the poured decking without messing it up, KJ Unnerstall Construction needed to devise a way to pour the deck without stepping on it while running a broom across the surface. “We created a dolly system that goes back and forth across the bridge and hovers over the floor,” says Locher. This new dolly system decreased the time it took to complete one long deck to just a single day.


Getting Noticed


“Users notice the steel bridges and have mentioned on Trailnet how nice the bridges look,” says Locher. “We’ve heard nothing but praise about the steel bridges from Pioneer Bridges.”

Pioneer Bridges Steel Bridge on the Katy Trail

“Gil and Skip worked closely with us and designed the bridges to meet the customer’s needs and for us to put it in place,” says Locher. “We are comfortable with Pioneer Bridges to provide bridges made specially to the customer’s needs and we had no problems with Pioneer from start to finish.”


“I’m a licensed engineer and have no problem recommending Pioneer Bridges. They are going to save you money and provide you with a design that works for you,” says Locher.

Weathering Steel

What is Weathering Steel

Weathering steel is a high strength, low alloy steel that was originally developed by United States Steel in the 1930s to resist corrosion and abrasion in their ore wagons. It was given the trade name Cor-ten, and was first used in construction in 1964. Since then the use of weathering steel has spread worldwide and is a popular choice for the use in Pioneer steel truss bridges.

Palm Coast

In suitable environments, weathering steel forms a protective rust “patina” that inhibits further corrosion. The corrosion rate is so low that bridges fabricated from unpainted weathering steel can achieve a 100 year design life with only nominal maintenance.

weathering steel

Benefits of Weathering Steel

• Lower up-front costs:  A weathering steel bridge generally costs about 10% to 15% less than a painted bridge.

• Low maintenance:  Weathering steel is ideal for bridges and other structures where access is difficult or dangerous, and where future disruption needs to be minimized. Inspection and cleaning should be the only maintenance required to ensure the structure continues to perform well.

• Project life cost benefits:  Nominal maintenance needs of weathering steel structures significantly reduce the costs of maintenance operations and the potential indirect costs of traffic delays.

• Construction Speed:  With the elimination of painting in our shop and touch up painting in the field – construction is streamlined.

• Curbside appeal:  The attractive appearance of mature weathering steel often blends in with the environment. Its appearance changes and improves with age.

• Environmental benefits:  Use of weathering steel eliminates the need for VOC laden paints.



Limitations on use

Weathering Steel Bridges are suitable for use in most locations. However, there are certain environments that can lead to durability problems. Weathering steel should not be used in salt-water environments or over brackish water.  Also, de-icing salts should not be used on weathering steel bridges and it not recommended for use in continuous wet/damp conditions.