STATEHOUSE (July 6, 2012) – State Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville) will co-host a public forum tomorrow to gather area residents' opinions on the future of the closed New Harmony Bridge.
Who: Sen. Jim Tomes (R-Wadesville)
Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Mt. Vernon)
Members of the Public
What: Open forum to discuss the New Harmony Bridge
When: Saturday, July 7, 9 a.m.
Where: Ribeyre Gymnasium, located in New Harmony, Ind.
Tomes said he gathered for an informal but informative meeting with McNamara, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) officials, U.S. Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN), U.S. Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL) and local county representatives on Thursday to prepare for Saturday’s forum.
“For the last 12 months or more, Rep. McNamara and I have been working with state agencies and committees to determine what the most viable solution for the New Harmony bridge is,” Tomes said. “We want folks to understand this is a top issue for us, and we know how important it is to the vitality of the local community.”
Tomes added that, at the informal meeting Thursday, the state and local officials discussed the costs and affordability of different proposals for a new bridge.
“Ultimately, we decided we need to take this issue to the public in order to make any final determination,” Tomes said. “We need to know what Hoosiers here in Posey County are willing to do, as well as how residents in White County, Illinois, are wanting to contribute to the potential project.”
In late April, an inspection of the New Harmony Bridge found its structure was no longer safe for use. Rusty holes and corrosion have compromised its steel beams, while a rotting deck adds extra public safety concerns. The bridge was closed to traffic on May 29.
“Removing a bridge that has been a staple in our community since the 1930s is, of course, an inconvenience and a risk for our community,” Tomes said. “I've reviewed the engineers' report and kept an open dialogue with INDOT and State Budget Committee members. At this time, I'm working to see what can be done to fix this problem in a way that benefits our community. Asking local residents to weigh in will be the most beneficial part of this process.”