Bridge bill passes Senate, goes to POTUS in next step towards reopening

Local News

NEW HARMONY, In. (WEHT) — The town of New Harmony, Indiana is now one step closer to reconnecting with neighbors in White County, Illinois.
The “The Restore the Harmony Way Bridge Act” passed the Senate Thursday, and now goes to President Trump’s desk to be vetoed or signed.

Local lawmakers, including U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Representatives Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and John Shimkus (R-IL) as well as Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Todd Young (R-IN) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), spear-headed this bill from both the Illinois and Indiana sides of the river.
It was a bi-partisan effort that will loosen federal control, so local bridge authorities can take back the bridge and take the next steps to opening it again.

It’s nice to see some progress, after a long time,” says Posey County local Ben LaBudde.

It’s true; a bill like this has been long time coming for those who live, work, and play in New Harmony.

“The bridge is very important to us, because obviously it shortens our travel time, makes it a lot more convenient,” says Jeff Bohleber of Carmi, IL. His company, Elastec, conducts annual training in New Harmony, and many who participate now must go around.

Since 2012, White County, IL and New Harmony have been disconnected from their neighbors.

“Not only my parents but anybody traveling from Carmi, Crossville… to New Harmony,” says Jenifer Yon. She travels from Grayville to workin New Harmony, and her parents live across the river. She says she’s not the only one. “There’s several people.”

“It’s a traditional part of this town. It’s a historic bridge,” said LaBudde. “Anybody who lives here, understands how important it is.”

For those looking to do business here, like Bohleber, the bridge closure costs time, and time is money.

“Now we have to travel all the way around the interstate and down, so it adds double the time. And inconvenience. Which makes a difference in the cost too.”

The bridge is a cause that has transcended political party lines, as lawmakers from both sides of the river, and both sides of the spectrum, worked to push this bill through.

“I really don’t think partisanship is an issue for people here. They just want to see something happen …in a pedestrian capcity, just for car traffic…anything.”

Now it is up to The President of the United States to make the next decision about one of the biggest topics in town.

“I wouldn’t call it hot. I would call it incessant,” laughs LaBudde.

“We hope that the president would see the economic benefits of actually accepting the bill.”

“It would mean a great deal. There would be a lot more people coming over.”

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(This story was originally published on July 31, 2019)

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