Obsolete overpass

Trimble County students
reveal facts on need for bridge

Kentucky, Indiana are now working together
to replace the aging structure

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(June 2006) – Legislators, business owners, residents and daily commuters are not the only ones concerned about the aging Ohio River Bridge connecting Milton, Ky. and Madison, Ind.

Trimble County Students

Photo by Konnie McCollum

Teacher Carla Goins (far right) worked on the project with Trimble County Middle School students (from left) Brian Hemmer, Kassi Green, Taylor Noblin and Casi Hoskins.

A group of Trimble County Middle School students recently used the subject as the focus of a unique competition. Their research was later organized into a Powerpoint presentation that impressed the Madison City Council when presented at an April 25 meeting.
Some say the group’s findings could even help in the advocacy of building a new bridge within the next decade.
Carla Goins, faculty advisor for gifted students at Trimble County Middle School, recently discovered a national competition she thought would be perfect for a group of her students. The competition, called “e-Cybermission,” is an Internet-based science, math and technology competition sponsored by the U.S. Army.
In the competition, students in sixth-eighth grades choose a real problem in the community, form a hypothesis about the problem and then offer a serious solution for it. The competition encourages students to explore how math, science and technology work in the real world. Teams compete for regional and national prizes.
Goins put together a group of four students who have shown exceptional skills in the areas of math, science and technology: seventh-graders Kassi Green, 13; Casi Hoskins, 13; Brian Hemmer, 13, and sixth-grader Taylor Noblin, 11. These students devoted many hours a week after school and even on weekends from last October through February 2006 to plan and research their project.
The students said that choice was not so difficult because the safety of the bridge has long been a concern for everyone in the communities who rely on it.
The team spent countless hours looking through various records, searching the Internet, researching local newspapers and sifting through official documents to find information about the history and safety management of the bridge.
They even took a field trip to Frankfort, Ky., to search through Kentucky Transportation Cabinet records for maintenance and safety inspection information. Goins said that the Kentucky Director of Records Maintenance, Anne Stansel, was extremely helpful with the team’s open records request.
Each student took turns during some weekends to videotape the traffic crossing the bridge at various times of the day. “The students’ parents were just great about helping out with the project,” Goins said.
Hemmer worked on photographing points on the bridge to add emphasis to their results.
The students also interviewed many local community leaders and politicians about the bridge. “The local officials were really helpful and were concerned about the bridge and its safety, but the higher-ups didn’t care as much,” Hoskins said.
Green added, “Many of the politicians and leaders didn’t think we were seriously doing anything important until we filed the open records requests.”
Apparently, at that point, leaders began paying a bit more attention and being more helpful.

Milton and Madison Bridge

Photo by Don Ward

Research shows the Ohio River bridge
between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.,
is obsolete and should be replaced.

After compiling the data, the group worked on a presentation for the contest, but then they also decided to present their findings to community leaders. The presentation surprised some of the Madison City Council members, the students said. Green said that Madison Mayor Al Huntington thanked them for bringing such an important issue to the forefront of the political scene.
Because city officials took them so seriously, all of the students felt proud of their achievements. Hoskins said that while it was stressful to do all of the work, it was also fun and rewarding to have done something important.
The students were actually quite shocked with some of their findings. Hemmer’s photos capture the gravity of the rust problem on the bridge and missing rivets and loose bolts, and the research on the bridge maintenance and safety showed serious concerns.
Green cited a sufficiency rating inspection, which measures safety and traffic counts. In it, the bridge scored a 31.6 out of a possible 100 after the 1997 refurbishing; before that, the rating was far below that. A rating of 50 or below on that inspection signifies extensive reworking or replacing should be done.
The students’ final determination was that the bridge is obsolete and needs to be replaced. Late or missing inspections and a lack of proper maintenance were also concerns raised in the project’s research.
“We always think that the system is in place to make sure the bridge is safe. We need to make sure that system works.”
Although the students did not win the contest, they were happy with their work. The group is considering re-entering their project next year because they were not quite finished with their research at the project’s deadline.
Recent political movements on both sides of the river have put the question of replacing the bridge back into the spotlight. Transportation officials in both states have agreed to work together to solve the issue. While nothing specific or definite has been worked out, there are forces working to put the bridge on lists in both Kentucky and Indiana for funding to replace it.
On May 16, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with Indiana State Rep. Billy Bright (R-North Vernon), visited Madison to talk with Huntington about the bridge. Daniels’ office reported that state officials hope to begin environmental studies of a replacement bridge sometime in the fall. Meanwhile, both Huntington and Bright are working to get the bridge put on the highway construction list.
In a later telephone interview conducted in late May, Bright said, “The new bridge is going to happen thanks to the Major Moves initiative. The funding is there and the plans are in place.”
Bright said planning and design is schedule to begin in 2007, construction should begin by 2012 and the bridge is scheduled for completion by 2016. He added, however, that those are tentative dates because there are many concerns to deal with in these types of projects.
Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford) said, “There is momentum going towards replacing the bridge and we are working to keep it out in front.”
While there has been no solid announcement about any plans, Kentucky has committed up to $3 million for a design firm to look into plans possibly later this summer. “The money is there, but nothing is concrete,” Rand said. “We will certainly keep working towards that goal.”

• Read more on the history of the Ohio River Bridge in Milton, Ky., at our online story archives. Visit: www.RoundAboutMadison.com and click on “Archived Stories” then “June 2001.”

Back to June 2006 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta