State Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) and State Representative David Reis (R-Ste. Marie) are pleased to announce the passage of SB 2804 through the Illinois House and Senate. The legislation reflects a combined effort by the two legislators to try to reopen the New Harmony Bridge that connects Illinois and Indiana over the Wabash River in deep rural Southeastern Illinois. The legislation creates a commission in Illinois that will be charged with cooperating with the New Harmony Bridge commission in the State of Indiana.
“After falling into disrepair due to a lack of funding for upkeep, the New Harmony Bridge has been closed to traffic for many years,” Reis said. “I am proud to be working with Senator Righter to establish a commission that can work with the State of Indiana to help raise money to reopen the bridge. The people of White County will benefit from an economic and a transportation standpoint. I am pleased that this issue is moving forward, and I look forward to the Governor signing this very important bill.”
SB 2804 creates the “New Harmony Bridge Compact Act” and says that three commissioners shall be appointed to enter into a compact on behalf of the State of Illinois with the State of Indiana to create the New Harmony Bridge Bi-State Commission with the eventual goal of the Commission being the reopening of the New Harmony Bridge.
“I want to thank Senator Righter and Representative Reis for their assistance in passing this legislation to aide in getting this bridge back open for the region. The reopening of the New Harmony Bridge will certainly assist in economic development for White County,” said White County Bridge Commission member Spud Egbert.
Mayor Eric Hennin of Phillipstown also expressed his thanks to Righter and Reis and regional partners that helped drive the issue for the State of Illinois.
"I am very impressed with Senator Righter and Representative Reis' quick, thorough work to solidify this step of the process,” Hennin said. “A big thank you to each of them, Spud Egbert, and the residents of Phillipstown for their efforts as this bridge provides direct value for residents on both sides of the Wabash. I appreciate the Illinois General Assembly's efficient work to improve this important piece of infrastructure."
"I am pleased with the swift and unanimous vote from the House,” said State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), who carried the legislation in the Senate. “I want to thank Rep. Reis and all the local officials in White County for their hard and quick work on this issue. This legislation is just the first step - but a necessary and important first step - in giving the opportunity to rehab the bridge and possibly reopen the bridge one day."
Having cleared both the House and Senate in the final days of Session, the legislation will now be sent to the Governor for his signature.