NEW HARMONY, In. (WEHT) — Illinois and Indiana now both have commissions or authorities to determine the future of the Harmony Way Bridge.
Illinois Governor Pritzker appointed three people to the New Harmony Bridge Authority this week.
Slowly, both states are taking steps towards developing a plan to reopen the bridge, after it closed in 2012.
There are five bridge Authority members for Illinois, including a New Harmony business owner who like so many, commutes daily from Illinois.
“It is the best view to come across that bridge.”
No longer full of traffic, the Harmony Way Bridge is full of memories for those on both sides of the river.
“You know you’re going someplace special.”
For Donna Kohlmayer, it reminds her of her late husband and grandson, Darren.
“Thats just kind of a happy point when we talk about the bridge.”
The bridge once brought her family together from out of state.
“And Darren would be so excited… until he got to that bridge. And he’d say — ‘oh no! Grandpa’s going to tell me to get my fingers out of my mouth!’ So that is my favorite little thing of the bridge.”
Governor Pritzker appointed New Harmony business owner and Illinois resident Sara Brown to the New Harmony Bridge Authority, and she hopes to work towards reconnecting her home and place of work.
“They would look at me and they would say, okay, who are you representing? Indiana or Illinois? And I said I don’t know. As far as I’m concerned, both.”
Both states now have representation to work towards the bridge’s future.
“The businesses … they hurt somewhat. I always thought though, and I always said….New Harmony is a destination,” said Kohlmayer.
It’s true time changes everything.
Darren is now 19, and his way to Grandma’s has changed too.
“Now he drives, and so he goes around!”
But one thing that stays the same is the need for connection…between two neighboring towns and states
“My husband is a farmer, farmers usually don’t move,” says Brown. “But I have fallen in love with this town.”
“It would be a very, very positive thing for everyone. There are no losers in this.”
Some in New Harmony say they’re eager for the bridge to re-open, but they know it won’t be a quick fix.
There’s still discussion about a major factor: How will the bridge be paid for — and some people say the bridge itself — may need to change.
The Illinois New harmony Bridge Authority will now meet with Indiana counterparts, the New Harmony and Wabash River Commission.