Input from federal, state and local participants critical
In last week’s column, I detailed the discussion that occurred during a town hall meeting on what can be done to re-open New Harmony Bridge.
To recap a few things, the town hall followed a meeting I had with elected representatives from Indiana, Illinois, Posey County, White County and the federal government. At the meeting, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced their offer to contribute $10 million toward a new bridge.
Below, I have outlined a few more discussion points brought up during the town hall.
Where would a new bridge be built?
There are several options under consideration, and ultimately the local communities and citizens will need to decide. The bridge could be built in the existing location or right next to the current bridge. Some people have also mentioned building it south of the current bridge. This last option would be extremely cost prohibitive. It would mean new roads, new studies and new land acquisition. A bridge built south of the current location is not a realistic or prudent path to take in my opinion and not the best use of taxpayer dollars.
What is the next step?
INDOT has delivered in writing to elected officials of Posey County the specifics of their proposed offer. State Representative Reis from Illinois will also be following up with me on his discussions with officials from the State of Illinois. Additionally, I am hopeful that our federal representatives may be able to help us secure some funding.
How long before a decision is made?
The offer of $10 million from the State of Indiana is only good until the end of year. With the upcoming gubernatorial election in November, we have no guarantee that a new governor’s administration would continue to offer money for a new bridge. This means the remaining stakeholders need to work quickly to see what type of funding they can contribute.
Who would be responsible/liable if the current bridge collapsed under its own weight and fell into the river?
The bridge is currently owned by the White County Bridge Commission. The Commission would be liable for any damage or cleanup that occurs.
I want to thank everyone who attended for your questions and input. Please contact me with any questions, comments or concerns you may have. Phone: 317-232-9671; Email: H76@IN.gov