Harmony Way Bridge over the Wabash River between White County, Illinois, and Posey County, Indiana, may soon have a new life.
The engineering marvel built in 1930 has sat unused since being permanently closed in 2012 due to structural issues. Federal law that created the White County Bridge Commission to purchase the structure from a private company in 1941 has prevented the two states from being able to take advantage of popular ideas to repurpose the bridge since its closing. That is on the verge of changing, thanks in large part to the Restore Harmony Way Bridge Act, H.R. 6793, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously Tuesday.
“I am happy that the hard work of so many people of both sides of the Wabash is about to come to fruition,” said Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15), whose district includes the Illinois portion of the bridge. “In particular, I want to thank Congressman Larry Bucshon (R, Indiana-8), who authored the legislation, which conveys the structure to a New Harmony Bridge Bi-State Commission established by Illinois and Indiana.”
That new commission will be tasked with deciding the future of the bridge, which connected Illinois Route 14 with Indiana State Road 66, known as Church Street in New Harmony, Indiana.
Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement “Communities on both sides of the Wabash River in Indiana and Illinois want to see this historic community landmark preserved. Unfortunately, the federal law that led to the bridge’s construction has also prevented it from being refurbished and reopened by the states of Indiana and Illinois. Instead, the bridge sits closed and simply sitting in a legal limbo.
“Today, we took a step forward in breathing new life into the historic Harmony Way Bridge. The Restore Harmony Way Bridge Act will convey the Harmony Way Bridge to the New Harmony Bridge Bi-State Commission established by Indiana and Illinois – allowing the states to have management over the Harmony Way Bridge and write the next chapter for this historic bridge.” Background
The Harmony Way Bridge was an engineering marvel that was built in 1930. The size of the Parker truss spans made it the largest of its kind in Indiana. It was permanently closed in 2012 due to structural integrity issues. The Restore Harmony Way Bridge Act was cosponsored in the House by every member of the Indiana and Illinois delegations, and has been introduced in the United States Senate by Senator Todd Young (R-IN).