Thursday, Dec 5, 2013
Saving the Harmony Way Bridge
WHITE CO. -- Volunteers are trying to save a bridge in White County by selling it. The Harmony Way Bridge has been closed since May of last year. It was deemed unsafe and in need of $8.5 million in repairs. Repairs that its current owners can't afford.
The idea is for the White County Bridge Committee to sell the bridge to a local government agency, for just $1. Once it becomes public property leaders can use grants to fund the needed repairs
"The Harmony Way Bridge is an artery that connects both southern Indiana and southern Illinois," said Linda Henning, of the Save the Harmony Way Bridge Committee.
That artery has been closed for more than a year now forcing drivers to find a different way across the Wabash River.
"From Carmi to New Harmony is a 14 mile trip with the bridge. It's about a 25 mile trip without the bridge," explained David Brown with the bridge committee.
It's hurt business in both states. The group trying to save the bridge says Indiana shops have reported a 20-30 percent drop in sales and stores in Illinois lost 10-15 percent since the bridge closed.
"It's been a major inconvenience as well as an economic depressant in our community," said Henning.
$8.5 million is needed to repair the bridge, beams that run the width have to be replaced.
"It is a public thoroughfare and in our opinion, it's what our governments are supposed to do, is to take care of the things that the private entities cannot," said Henning.
Before the closure, 800 cars a day would cross the bridge and leaders want to see that commerce return.
"This bridge is really needs to be repaired and reopened and continue fighting to get the rehab money to make the major rehab so that it'll be there long past our lifetimes," said Spud Egbert with the White County Bridge Committee.
The volunteer committee has approached leaders in New Harmony and county officials in both states about taking ownership of the bridge. Now they're just waiting to see if there's any interest.
Wind: 5 MPH
Humidity: 76 %