New Gateway

Project 421 opens road
from Madison Main Street to bridge

Current, former mayors take part
in ribbon-cutting event

(July 2020) – The long-awaited opening of the new Milton-Madison Bridge approach in Madison, Ind., came to fruition June 18 with the official opening of the roadway connecting Main Street directly to the bridge linking the city to Milton, Ky.
The new Indiana approach has been a dream of many residents and local officials for years, and especially since the 2014 opening of the newly constructed Milton-Madison Bridge. The new bridge was a pride and joy of the communities of both Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky. But getting to it in Madison wasn’t.

Madison, Indiana mayors

Photo by Don Ward

From left, Tim Armstrong, Madison Mayor Bob Courtney, Ginny Welch and Al Huntington pose for a photo prior to the June 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony in Madison, Ind.

Construction on the half-mile approach began in 2018. Now that the approach is open and takes traffic coming off the bridge directly up and onto Main Street, rather than zig-zagging through three 90-degree turns on narrow residential streets, area residents can also be proud of this new gateway into Madison and Indiana.
Despite the road opening from Second Street to Main Street, more work is needed throughout the summer and fall to finish the Project 421 initiative. Drainage work, curb and gutter work, sidewalk construction and pavement on the west side of the road from the bridge to the intersection of Second Street still must be completed.
The final touches will be connecting the existing bridge pedestrian walkway to a new sidewalk, plus the installation of a traffic light at the intersection, according to INDOT Public Relations Director Natalie Garrett. She said two of the biggest challenges faced by the construction crew were dealing with a natural spring that runs under Second Street and working around underground utilities.
On June 18, Madison Mayor Bob Courtney joined former mayors Al Huntington and Tim Armstrong, along with Ginny Welch, wife of the late Mayor Damon Welch, in thanking those responsible for getting the nearly $10 million job done. This included local, regional, state and even some national politicians, Indiana Department of Transportation officials, Beaty Construction workers and local residents – especially those residents who live within the construction area.
After thanking many of those in government in both Indiana and Kentucky, Courtney thanked “all the construction workers who played a critical role in the new bridge and now the new bridge approach. I also thank all the residents for their patience, especially those who in the heart of the construction zone who have endured a lot of inconvenience so we can stand here today.”
Ginny Welch was the first person to drive through the new approach roadway as a way of paying tribute to her late husband, who died suddenly in Sept. 2019 while still serving in his last few months in office.

Madison, Indiana Gateway

Photo by Don Ward

The new half-mile roadway opened June 18 to traffic.

Courtney, who was elected as mayor last year after having been appointed to lead the city throughout the remaining months of Welch’s term, used the opportunity to praise his predecessor, saying, “I’m committed to honor the legacy of Mayor Damon Welch and finish the work that he and his team started. Mayor Welch’s vision for a safer approach became a reality today. I wish he were here to see it.”
Courtney acknowledged presence of Andrew Forrester, who served as Community Relations Manager in Welch’s administration and lost the May 2019 Republican primary to Courtney to succeed him.
Courtney continued, saying, “As we spend the next few months finishing the bridge approach construction, we will now turn our attention to redesigning Main Street – a new long-term endeavor that will further promote economic development, modernize traffic safety and further enhance our quality of life in Madison. I’m grateful to have been handed the baton and look forward to continue to serve the city of Madison.”
Main Street (State Hwy. 56) is now under the control of the state of Indiana, but in 2014 the state agreed to turn over to the city control of the 4.4-mile stretch from Jefferson Street to the top of Hanover Hill. This is scheduled to occur on July 1. The city will then also take over all maintenance of it and any redesign it chooses.
Huntington and Arm-strong recounted the long history of getting state and national politicians interested in working to fund the new bridge and later the bridge approach.
“Today is a great day to celebrate this wonderful gateway to Madison and the state of Indiana. It is amazing to see the positive impact the bridge has had on our community,”
said Huntington, who took over as mayor in 1994 and served until 2007.
Armstrong served on term as mayor from January 2008 to December 2011.
“When you rode across the old bridge, it was very narrow and a little dangerous frankly,” Huntington continued. “Now the bridge is so wide now, and you don’t have to hold your breath when you meet a truck. It’s not only good for Madison, but also for Milton and Trimble County.”
Both Huntington and Armstrong recalled working closely with Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand and Jack Couch, a former Trimble County Judge-Executive who later became head of the state’s Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency. Both worked tirelessly to obtain funding for the new bridge, Armstrong said.

Madison, Indiana Gateway

Photo by Don Ward

A large group takes part in the June 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new bridge approach in Madison, Ind.

But it was the securing of a $20 million federal stimulus Tiger Grant in 2008 that got the bridge project rolling, followed by the joint agreement by both states in sharing the remaining cost of completing the project. Armstrong recounted his experience of working with then Indiana Congressman Baron Hill’s office to get then U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to visit Madison to see firsthand the condition of the old bridge. That made the difference in the two states’ lobbying efforts for federal funding, he said. Only 51 applications nationwide were approved for a piece of the $15 billion stimulus package, he recalled, and the new bridge connecting Milton and Madison was one of them.
Welch defeated Armstrong for mayor and took over the office in January 2012. Armstrong said Welch continued to work feverishly for a new bridge approach. “He was presented with nine or 10 different options, and he took the best option and carried it on to where it is today. It’s a great moment. The only sad part is that he’s not here today to share it with us. But I’m sure he’s up there looking down on us smiling and knowing that it’s been completed.”
Project 421 is the study of the half-mile section of U.S. Route 421 through Madison that approaches the Milton-Madison Bridge. The purpose of the project is to select a route that best addresses the safety concerns, mobility challenges and economic development needs of Madison.

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