for Bridge Closure
La Grange prepare
for competition if bridge closes
towns will likely see more
traffic during 2011 project
Helen E. McKinney
Kentucky Edition Cover
CARROLLTON, Ky. (December 2009) To say the
closing of the Milton-Madison Bridge a year from now will be an inconvenience
for many is an understatement. Bridge project officials have proposed
closing the 80-year-old bridge in 2011 to replace the superstructure
atop the existing piers. It would be closed from nine to 12 months,
Although no one denies it needs to be repaired for safety reasons, business
leaders in the Carrollton, Ky., community are already concerned about
where local and regional residents will go to shop and conduct business.
A Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Downtown Revitalization Meeting
was held Oct. 20 during which the bridge closure was discussed. Ideas
were considered for a marketing campaign to keep Carrolltons economy
thriving during the bridge shutdown.
Three main ideas that resulted from the meeting hinged
on the beautification of downtown Carrollton, business recruitment and
the development of a River Walk between Fifth Street and Point Park,
said Sam Burgess, Carrollton Main Street Program manager.
Committees were formed based on these three ideas and the hope is that
these committees can come up with different ideas to keep the downtown
area flourishing during the bridge closure. Even though nothing concrete
was developed, We hope we will come up with ideas as a group,
said Carroll County Chamber of Commerce Vice President Heather Yocum.
Mark H. Smith is the incoming chamber president for 2010. This
is a continuation of positive things which have occurred downtown already,
such as our fabulous library, new restaurant and the many events,
Smith said. The chamber is encouraging all members to make their
businesses inviting for potential new customers.
by Don Ward
Bridge has been deemed structurally
deficient and functionally obsolete,
meaning its too narrow for todays
traffic. A 15-ton weight limit was
imposed on the bridge last summer.
There are both negatives and positives to this project,
said Burgess, and there are bound to be some long-term effects on Carrollton,
Burgess said. One major positive outcome would be in getting residents
used to buying local products again.
He views one positive effect of the closure as seeing more traffic
and dollars staying locally. It could also be an enticement to
businesses to locate to Carrollton, he said.
Many at the meeting see La Grange, Ky., as a possible major economic
threat to Carrollton. Naturally, when the bridge closes, La Grange would
be one of the places Madison residents could go to instead of Carrollton.
We do share common customers, said Karen Eldridge, owner
of Karens Book Barn in La Grange. But Im not sure
what to expect.
though (La Grange) has different things to offer, were a
good alternative to people who go to Madison, but we cannot replace
Karen Eldridge, Karens Bookbarn, La Grange, Ky.
She said that even though we have different things
to offer, were a good alternative to people who go to Madison,
but we can not replace Madison.
Eldridge, who is also on the board of Discover Downtown La Grange (the
towns Main Street organization), said the organization has not
discussed how or if the bridge closure will impact the city. If people
are just looking for a day out and about, La Grange is a great place
to go, she said. But she doesnt know if La Grange will become
a permanent destination to draw individuals away from Carrollton.
Barbara Edds, executive director of Discover Downtown La Grange, believes
its just too early to know if La Grange will be impacted by the
bridge closure. La Grange does have a very walkable, shopable
downtown, said Edds. There is also the draw of the train.
Were one of three towns in the whole United States that has this
particular situation with a train running down Main Street.
Edds also credits both La Grange and Madison as having a historical
aspect that draws people in. The closure is definitely something
for us to be thinking about. But she added, If people want
to go to Madison, theyll find a way to get there.
Like others she knows, Edds is concerned about crossing the Milton-Madison
Bridge. Infrastructure all over the United States in aging and
has to be replaced.
Eldridge said she is excited about the idea of a ferry service that
would shuttle commuters back and forth. This may also make people think
about alternate routes from Carrollton to Madison.
If it pans out, this may prove to be a viable transportation option,
conceded Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold Shorty Tomlinson.
At this point, we need to look at any options weve got,
he said. Tomlinson said he would be working with Madison and Trimble
County officials to take care of any concerns and get the project completed
in a timely fashion.
Bridge project officials applied for a $95 million federal grant, which
is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or economic stimulus
funds. The grant applied for is a Transportation Infrastructure Generating
Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant and the money will be awarded in January
2010. If the bridge project receives the grant, it would contain the
stipulation that the project would have to be completed by February
see this as an opportunity for our local merchants to market their
products and services to a new customer base."
Shorty Tomlinson, Carroll Co. Judge-Executive
It would possibly be one year before we would see the
bridge closed, said Tomlinson. Periodic lane closures would occur in
spring 2010 for much-needed repairs until the replacement project begins.
Cost of the superstructure replacement is $131 million. Indiana and
Kentucky have agreed to split the additional cost above the $95 million
Its definitely going to have an impact on Carrollton and Carroll
County, Tomlinson said. For individuals that commute back and
forth across the bridge to work, it will put a financial bind on them.
It will put a burden on the many companies in Carrollton with large
trucks that cross the bridge daily as well.
A 15-ton truck weight limit already was imposed on the bridge last summer
by the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Vehicle Enforcement officers
from the Kentucky State Police Post 5 have been enforcing the weight
But Tomlinson doesnt see the project as a complete negative for
local businesses. Once the bridge is completely closed, it may provide
an opportunity for Carrollton to pick up business, said
From a chamber perspective, we see this as an opportunity for
our local merchants to market their products and services to a new customer
base. For the businesses, this may provide increased sales, said
As long as local business meets consumer demands with products and services
similar to what they might find in La Grange or Madison, Smith said,
We are finding that the increased time and expense of going out
of town influences folks to shop at home, especially in these times
of budget consciousness.
He thinks the closure will not deter new businesses from opening in
Carroll County. The bridge closure is a short-term issue, whereas opening
a new business is a long-term decision, Smith said. It appears
more businesses are recognizing Carroll Countys appeal over the
long term. Carroll County will have an opportunity to market its attractiveness
to potential new visitors, consumers and residents, once the bridge
No matter what, The bottom line is that the bridge is in terrible
condition, said Tomlinson. It needs to be replaced and there
are not a lot of good alternatives. Safety has to be the number one
Burgess agrees: Im not looking forward to the inconveniences.
But I have to put safety over personal preferences.
Back to December 2009