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Illinois and Indiana Authorities Gather for Joint Meeting to Discuss Future of Harmony Way Bridge

The end goal is for people to be able to utilize the Harmony Way Bridge connecting New Harmony to east White County and Crossville.  Right now, a pressing need is to keep people out however.  At Friday’s joint meeting between the Indiana and Illinois Bridge Authorities, making repairs to barriers was a hot topic of conversation.  The Illinois Authority announced recently the effort had been awarded a $150,000 Delta Regional Authority grant.  Friday, board members from both factions authorized members to make purchases aimed at keeping trespassers off the span.  The Illinois Authority authorized purchases of No Trespassing signs and the hiring of a welder to fuse the gate frames together as vandals have repeatedly used bolt cutters to cut chains.  They may also purchase a new camera.  The Indiana Authority agreed to purchases of $6,695 to repair seam covers on the bridge, expanded metal screens to place across the gates, and angled barbed wire to hopefully deter future potential trespassers/vandals.  It’s not a new problem.

Almost 12 years ago, the Harmony Way Bridge closed with what an engineer called critical fracture issues given as the main reason.  No improvements or significant maintenance has been conducted since then.  The Delta Regional Authority grant the Illinois/Indiana New Harmony Bridge Authorities were awarded recently will pay for a section loss study and another critical fracture study.  There certainly has been further deterioration since then.  Ron Eimer, of the Indiana Bridge Authority explains those studies.

“The section loss study is taking a look at every piece of steel on that bridge.  And if there’s any deterioration primarily rust, they have to determine how much of the original thickness of the material is there and how much is left.  Well, in a couple locations, I can tell you how much is left because you can put your hand through it.  Zero.  But that has to be done.  It’s a visual inspection where you see corrosion, they use devices to measure the thickness that’s there to determine how much of the section is left.  The critical fracture study is a very detailed study of every piece of steel on that bridge that’s in tension.  If it’s under tension, it has to be visually inspected to see if there are any cracks at all.  This is one of the reasons why the bridge ended up being closed.  There were two major bridge disasters, federal highway came down and said every bridge every two to four years has to be inspected for critical fractures.”

The rest of the meeting was spent discussing potential grants including the latest attempt at a FY24 RAISE grant, a Reconnecting Communities Grant, and potential new grant opportunities in a Rural STBG grant and an ATIIP grant.  There’s no clear date on when the bridge could potentially re-open as a dual pedestrian/vehicle connection.  Indiana Bridge Authority President Rod Clark says If absolutely everything fell into place perfectly, the earliest would be 2028, but that another outlet’s reporting that insinuated that was likely was a bit overly optimistic.

Both commissions went into executive session at 12:45pm after about an hour and 38 minutes of discussion.  Following that, White County Commission President Mike “Spud” Egbert says the group voted to continue negotiation with Sparklight regarding the cable the company has that runs across the bridge.

1 comment
  1. bob
    April 6, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    just tear it down make a new and wider one and safer


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