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Harmony Way Toll Bridge
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Down in the southwestern corner of Indiana, there’s a two-lane toll bridge a half-mile long that takes you from the historic town of New Harmony across the Wabash River to Illinois. It’s so perfect that your exit west from this enchanting village is a picturesque iron span with a friendly human gatekeeper.
About 900 cars a day pay the toll, including farmers who rely on it because they work land on both sides of the river. The farmers and people who live in New Harmony, and people from all over who love the place, are worried because the charming Toll Bridge is in jeopardy.
Inspectors have declared the 1930 bridge “structurally deficient.” It’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and it needs repairs that will cost $8 million dollars. That’s a big problem, all right, but there’s an even bigger one. More than 70 years ago, Congress created a joint Illinois-Indiana commission to operate the span. The three-member Commission remains in charge of the structure, but in 1998 Congress eliminated the law that would allow the appointment of new commissioners, leaving the bridge in bureaucratic limbo: what happens if one of the current commissioners dies or resigns? Nobody knows. And neither state accepts responsibility for the bridge or its repair.
The toll bridge is still open. You can cross at 25-miles-an-hour for one dollar. But the condition, the cost to repair, and its stateless condition make New Harmony’s Toll Bridge one of Indiana’s 10 Most Endangered landmarks.
New Harmony Toll Bridge
Evansville Courier Press article (November 2011)
10 Most Endangered landmarks in Indiana
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