The 2017 engineering study on the Harmony Way Bridge, funded by a grassroots campaign to reopen the bridge closed since 2012, is no longer valid, according to the Illinois New Harmony Bridge Authority.
The authority met for its first official meeting after members were appointed earlier this month. Springfield attorney authority member Ellen Schanzle-Haskins expressed that, "Federal highway requires a new full study of the bridge every two years.”
With that in mind, Schanzle-Haskins let the board know that the engineering study back in 2017 was outdated and that a new engineering firm will have to be brought down for a full analysis.
Spencer stated, “That is going to be one of the first things on the agenda.”
Since the bridge is so large, the firm will have to have three levels of engineers: major river engineer, complex bridge engineer and other categories. In order to make the Quality Selection deadline in January, the board will need to get an engineering firm that is pre-qualified by IDOT to do the inspection.
Michael "Spud" Egbert informed the board that not only does the Harmony Way Bridge need to be inspected but the two bridges leading up to it also need a study done and repaired.
“As we move forward, those bridges will have to be put in the plan.”
Earlier in the inaugural meeting of the freshly appointed Illinois authority, Egbert was elected chairman of the Illinois New Harmony Bridge Authority, with Clint Spencer as the Vice Chair and Linda Henning as the Secretary Treasurer.
Egbert started the meeting off by discussing the state of Illinois viewing the elected Illinois Authority as an entity. “The state gives our bonds for us and we are protected under state laws, Indiana doesn’t have that same condition. They don’t even know where they will get their bonds or how they will pay for them at this point.” At their first ever meeting to discuss the Harmony Way Bridge, the newly appointed members got underway on their duties with the help of another member, Sara Brown, and attorney Ellen Schanzle-Haskins.
A big issue with the bridge has been the gas line on the Indiana side. Egbert introduced that, “New Harmony has already done studies on how much it will cost to move the gas line and they have explored the options, like putting it under the river is going to be cheaper than other options.” Sara Brown, a business owner in New Harmony, agreed that the big topic in the town has been the gas line. Spencer declared that, “I see that being a major problem down the line, when we start trying to get federal money and what they allow and what they don’t allow.”
Moving right along, the board discussed the different options on how they would like the bridge to be opened. Spencer stated his idea of, “Our main focus has to be get the vehicle traffic back going across.” Egbert agreed and concluded that, “actually if you read our act it says that is what we have to do,” with other members also voicing their agreement.