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Indiana & Illinois to discuss plans for New Harmony Bridge

There could be light at the end of the tunnel for the historic New Harmony bridge, as lawmakers from both Indiana and Illinois are set to discuss its future. 

"The bridge has been closed well over ten years and I know it's been a real hardship for that town," said Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes.

Built in 1930, the historic New Harmony Bridge connects Indiana and Illinois. It was never owned by either state but rather a bridge commission - that was its own private entity.

Over the decades, the bridge fell into disrepair and funding from tolls was not enough for up-keep. Due to unsafe conditions, it closed in 2012.

In early 2018 Indiana State Senator Jim Tomes worked with the community to draft now passed legislation to create a five-person commission to oversee the project.

"It establishes a new bridge commission," said Tomes "and 3 of the commissioners would be appointed by the Governor, one by Posey County and one by the town of New Harmony."

On Thursday, the Illinois Senate passed a mirror of Indiana's legislation to create their own bridge commission to manage the project.

"We took the Indiana model once they signed it into law," said Illinois State Senator Dale Righter "and that's what we worked off of in order to create our legislation."

State Senator Tomes says he is curious about the legislation because he says Illinois has not shown interest in the project before.

"They had all the time in the world. They had all these many years to do something of their own and they've done nothing. But now out of the blue here they come johnny come lately with this idea and are trying to hitch a wagon on what we have and I don't want to take any chances that there would be some proposal that could derail what we're doing" said Tomes.

However, State Senator Dale Righter says both states need to work together.

"It partners with the Indiana legislation if you will," said Righter "to set up the harmony bridge commission because obviously, the bridge goes from Illinois to Indiana, you need bi-state cooperation."

There will be a conference call between all parties next Monday to discuss the future of the bridge.

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(This story was originally published on May 10, 2018)

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