New Harmony and Wabash River Bridge Commission meet for the first time since Trump signs New Harmony Act

New Harmony and Wabash River Bridge Commission meet for the first time since Trump signs New Harmony Act

NEW HARMONY, Ind. (WFIE) -The Harmony Way Bridge connecting White County, Illinois, to Posey County, Indiana, is one step closer to opening.

The New Harmony and Wabash River Bridge Commission met to discuss what their next moves are.

It's their first meeting since President Trump signed the Restore the New Harmony Bridge Act, leading the way to get the bridge back open.

Before this legislation, the bridge was one of the only ones left in federal control.

Now this bill has been signed, it puts the bridge back into control of the local government bodies.

Right now, the legislation says the New Harmony Wabash River Commission in Indiana and the New Harmony River Bridge authority in Illinois will have joint control.

At Wednesday’s meeting, they discussed who would control ownership of the bridge, as well as who would operate the bridge.

These are all things the two groups will have to talk about in the coming weeks.

Its all complicated because they're dealing with two different states and two different sets of state laws.

According to the Indiana side of all of this, the goal is to just get it up and running.

“From the conversation I had with folks in Illinois, that they want to have a 50/50 partnership in managing the bridge,” said the the New Harmony and Wabash River Commission Project Manager Lora Arneberg. “But that will be the first conversation is do we want to do it jointly together, which I think it will be. If so, what use to do we want want to pursue, and then funding for the repairs.”

Some businesses in New Harmony are eager for the bridge to open back up. That would mean business from White County will be able to travel to New Harmony businesses easier. Since the bridge closed in 2012, Chris' Pharmacy owner Chris Kissell says a good chunk of their business that came from Illinois is now gone.

“Originally, they stayed with us. Some of it was hoping they would reopen it pretty soon...” said Kissell. “But as time went on... little by little they start not coming back, so I’m down to one family who still trades here from Illinois.”

The Indiana commission didn't set a next meeting date.

Members were going to wait to see what happened with the Illinois commission.

At that point, both commissions next meeting could be together.

Copyright 2019 WFIE. All rights reserved.