for study on new Ohio River Bridge
taken to gather information on bridge traffic
(August 2008) Kentucky and Indiana have signed
an agreement to begin an environmental and preliminary design study
for a bridge to replace the 80-year-old Ohio River Bridge that connects
Milton, Ky., with Madison, Ind. Wilbur Smith and Associates, a Lexington,
Ky., international transportation and infrastructure consulting firm,
will conduct the three-year study.
by Don Ward
Ohio River Bridge, as seen from
this view atop the Jefferson
County Courthouse, is a critical
transportation gateway linking
Madison, Ind., to Milton, Ky.
The study will include preliminary engineering,
environmental studies and public involvement that will result in a preferred
grade and roadway geometrics, including a conceptual bridge type selection,
according to Corey Murphy, executive director of Economic Development
Partners of Jefferson County. Until recently, the organization was formerly
known as Madison-Jefferson County Economic Development Corp but on July
23 announced a name change as part of a new effort to lure business
and industry to the county.
This phase of the bridge project is expected to cost approximately $5
million, with each state paying half, officials say. The Kentucky Trans-portation
Cabinet is the lead state agency on the project. I am looking
forward to the Wilbur Smith study to begin, he said.
This is definitely a move in a positive direction, said
Shannon Hoskins, City of Milton clerk. There is progress being
made on this critical issue for our community; things are happening,
but they are just not as clearly visible as wed like.
Murphy said that over the last few months there has been a group of
local community leaders on both sides of the Ohio River meeting periodically
to continue local cooperation and discussion of the regionally important
U.S. Hwy. 421 bridge replacement project.
EDP, along with help from area businesses and industry,
developed a survey to provide quantitative and qualitative information
about the importance of the bridge to the regions economic health.
Murphy said the survey will be used to communicate the importance of
the project to decision makers in Frankfort, Ky., Indianapolis and federal
officials in Washington, D.C.
The survey was distributed to area businesses earlier in the year, and
statistics have been compiled from the results.
We wanted to show the economic impact the bridge has on our community,
said Hoskins. We have a critical need for the bridge, and should
it become inoperable, the cost for area businesses and workers to find
an alternative route would be tremendous.
The bridge was built by the J.G. White Engineering Co. of New York City
in 1928-1929 at a cost of $1,365,101.84. It is the only bridge across
the Ohio River from Louisville, Ky., to the Markland Dam and Locks Bridge
in Vevay, Ind.
Twenty-seven companies from various sectors of the community responded
to the bridge survey, including eight from manufacturing and 11 from
service and retail operations in the area.
Murphy said the respondents were given the opportunity to rate how the
bridge factors with business decisions (1 = Not Important; 5 = Very
Important). Out of the companies responding, the average rating was
3.03. When respondents were asked what their cumulative additional business
costs would be if the bridge were not available, the responses ranged
from loss of customers, to $120,000 a year.
According to commuting data from Stats Indiana 2006, 429 individuals
drive from Kentucky into Jefferson County, Ind., on a daily basis, while
1,183 people drive from Jefferson County to Kentucky. Overall, Jefferson
County is an importer of workforce.
A June 2007 traffic count by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recorded
9,100 vehicles cross the bridge on a daily basis.
The survey confirmed that the U.S. 421 bridge plays a vital role
in the areas economy, said Murphy. And with the nearest
river crossing 26 miles away, the recent increase in fuel prices would
magnify the impact of not having the bridge.
Hoskins said the survey will be circulated among state representatives
for information. Area officials and leaders have done a remarkable
job of cooperating on this project because of the serious and critical
nature of it. We need to make sure we continue to work together as a
single community with a unified voice to get this project done.
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