“If Illinois can take care of the liability then let them own it.” Rodney Clark, the President of the New Harmony and Wabash River Commission, and the rest of his board members met with the public of New Harmony to discuss the future of the New Harmony Bridge. It is the first time they are meeting since President Trump signed the future of the bridge into federal control. 

Indiana and Illinois will have joint control over the bridge, but as of right now neither side has met together and Indiana is ready to get started on what needs to be done. 

Clark made sure to let the public know that no final decisions would be made about the bridge today. Instead he and the rest of the board members discussed issues that they would be facing in the weeks ahead. While the board talked about liability, DNO and other issues, they asked why the bridge was closed to begin with. 

Jerry Walden, County Commissioner, let the board know that back in 2012 both INDOT and IDoT put together a meeting where lDoT stated that, “The beams underneath the approach ramp on their side would not support whatever was going on. Somebody wanted it closed.” Clark asked, “Why was there an inspection done on the bridge to begin with? Why did lDoT have the authority to go onto a private bridge.” Bill Gillenwater, a member of the board, cut Clark off, “It started after the Minnesota bridge collapse and all states were mandated to inspect their bridge.”

Clark and the rest of the board members noted that INDOT made several inspections and one contractor told INDOT that there was not much to fix. 

The board then discussed the Illinois and the Indiana bills and what they indicate. “On the Illinois side, it specifically says the intent is open it for cars, for the needs of the motorists, even the Indiana legislation seems to make that fairly clear”, Clark said. Lora Arneberg, who is the Vice President of the board, made it clear that, “The Illinois legislation came from ours and an old draft of a previous version of this, they basically cut and pasted all these pieces and put it together. I don’t think it was so much a personal opinion of the intention of the people who wrote it, this was what was already there and it was easier to just put it together.” She concluded with making sure that the only goal in opening the bridge is to get it up and running, “Whichever one pays the bill is what we will do.”

The meeting adjourned with no future meeting set. They are waiting for the Illinois Authority to band together.