Wabash River bridge takes its toll

| 1/7/2002

Drivers crossing the Wabash River have been seeing double since New Year's Day. The cost to cross the river at New Harmony, IN, into Illinois doubled for most drivers when the new year rang in.

The White County, IL, Bridge Commission more than doubled the toll for one-ton trucks, jumping from 70 cents to $1.50, and is charging an additional 50 cents for every axle more than two. Five-axle big rigs will be charged $3, up from $1.45.

Passenger vehicles are also paying more. Four wheelers are forking over $1, up from 50 cents. Not even bicyclists were able to escape the push for additional revenue. They will be charged a quarter.

The commission threatened last fall to close the bridge this year due to a lack of available finances. About two weeks before the commission planned to barricade the bridge, legislators in Illinois secured $120,000 to keep the bridge open for at least another year.

Estimates are that it will cost $2 million to $3 million to repair the bridge and make it acceptable under federal standards. The cost to replace the bridge is estimated at more than $25 million.