There may be more than $1 million in funding available to restore the Harmony Way Bridge on the Illinois side of the Wabash River.
The Illinois New Harmony Bridge Authority met in Carmi Thursday afternoon for their second meeting since the initial appointments were named to the authority in early September, discussing possible funding avenues for funding the project to repair the New Harmony bridge. The ILNHBA is one of two organizations created to take ownership of the bridge from the federally-created White County Bridge Authority, with Indiana legislation forming the Indiana New Harmony Bridge and Wabash River Commission for the same purpose.
Both public bodies have the option to enter into a bi-state entity to assume control of the bridge, per each state’s legislation on the subject.
During Thursday’s meeting of the Illinois authority, ILNHBA Treasurer Linda Henning reported on information gathered from Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission Grant Administrator Michael Gill, Community Development Coordinator Heather Neuman and Executive Director Olivia Baumgardner.
“They made us aware of several avenues for resources that would help us fund the bridge study,” said Henning. “One resource, which we weren’t aware of, is a $1 million bridge program, and that’s something that we can apply for.
“Basically what that is, is left over bridge funds from other counties that has not been spent.”
She also noted that the $1 million grant could be used to cover engineering costs, as well as construction costs for the bridge project.
“There are also some preservation heritage fund grants that we think are funded by the Illinois Department of Resources,” Henning said. “Those can be grants or loans for monetary assistance for engineering, architectural and feasibility studies.”
According to Henning, the GWRPC, a grant-writing and administration entity covering a seven-county area, expressed a willingness to assist the ILNHBA with any grants for which it may wish to apply.
“Between IDOT and the Greater Wabash Regional Planning Commission, they’re all very helpful,” she explained of organizations offering assistance to the ILNHBA. “They’ll support us in any way they can.”
The creation of a White County Port Authority was also mentioned in the ILNHBA’s interaction with the GWRPC, with the intention of creating other potential revenue streams. The authority noted that this would not be an option they would likely pursue, however, due to the potential to add bureaucracy to the bridge restoration effort.
Earlier in the meeting, the authority further discussed details on an engineering study that would need to be done on the bridge, as noted in their initial meeting on Sept. 21. In that meeting, ILNHBA member Ellen Schanzle-Haskins, a Springfield resident and Carmi native, explained that a 2017 engineering study performed by VR Engineering on behalf of a grassroots campaign to reopen the bridge in Indiana was out of date per Illinois Department of Transportation standards, necessitating a need to commission a new study in order to move forward with the project.
Members of the ILNHBA declined to comment on their expectations on the cost of such a study, as doing so may have an impact on the bidding process.
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