of bridge project
explored by participants
in online forum
on historic properties
among highlights of chat
(July 2009) As a way to continue to encourage public
input into the Milton-Madison Bridge Project, officials held an online
forum June 2 at the projects website, www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.
During two different sessions, community representatives from the Project
Advisory Group, residents of the surrounding community, historic property
owners and historic interest representatives had an opportunity to ask
project team members extensive questions about the three-year, $5 million
environmental study to build a new bridge across the Ohio River.
Involving the public in the process is part of the requirements for
the National Environmental Policy Act, which should be completed by
mid-June 2010, according to Tim Sorenson, of lead consulting firm Wilbur,
Smith Associates. Once NEPA documents are finalized, the next stage
is final design, right-of-way acquisition, utility relocation and any
permitting, which generally takes between two to four years, according
to project team members during the chat.
We have received great input from the public to this point. We
have been able to use public input to shape the location alternatives
as well as the bridge aesthetics, team members stated during the
The Canip Creek alternative has been driven very heavily by input
through our public involvement process. What has been greatly appreciated
is the continued input from the local officials and the PAG members
to help keep this project on track.
Questions varied during the two, two-hour sessions, including what a
realistic cost would be for such a project, and how much funding is
already put aside. According to project team members, a good cost estimate
for a bridge project of this type would be $100-$200 million. The Indiana
Department of Transportation has $10 million set aside in their funding
plan for the project, while the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has
about $40 million shown in the last four years of the new six-year highway
plan. That funding would still have to be approved by the Kentucky Legislature
early in 2010.
The poor condition of the bridge was also discussed. The comment was
made that rumors have swirled that there is not a chance a new bridge
could be under construction before 2020, or even 2017 at the very earliest.
The question was posed: Are those realistic dates or is there
a possibility we could see construction begin much earlier?
Team members responded with, because the existing bridge is in
poor condition, the project team has made an effort to expedite the
process with sensitivity to the historic communities. We hope that our
earlier than normal coordination with the Section 106 parties has created
good working relationships.
According to the Citizens Guide of the
Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, Section 106 of the National
Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires the federal agencies involved
in a project to take into account the effects of their undertakings
on properties listed or eligible for listing in the National Register
and to give the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable
opportunity to comment.
Consulting parties include state historic preservation officers, Native
American tribes, local governments and individuals or organizations
with a demonstrated interest in the project.
Section 106 review does not mandate preservation because sometimes there
is no way for a needed project to proceed without harming historic properties.
It does, however, ensure that preservation values are factored into
the planning and decision processes.
The point of 106 reviews is not to stop projects, but to ensure that
federal agencies fully consider historic preservation issues and the
views of the public during project planning.
That point was questioned at the April PAG meeting, which was held at
the Livery Stable in Madison, Ind. One of the local rumors is
that the Section 106 parties can stop any project. Is this true?
asked PAG member Peter Woodburn.
John Carr, the project manager, said it is not true. However,
the Section 106 opinions are held in high regard and there are laws
that we will address on this project, he said. We would
like the parties to sit down with us and help us review resources as
we consider alignments within alternatives.
A comment then arose that a letter from the National Trust for Historic
Preservation, signed by several organizations involved with the 106
process on the bridge project, was read at the March PAG meeting. That
letter gave a preferred alternative and specifically did not recommend
the superstructure replacement alternative, one of the four remaining
alternatives for the project. Several 106 parties signed the letter,
but not all of them agree with it.
Given the tremendous detrimental impact of having no bridge in
this community, it appears that the letter does not address the local
sentiment, said attorney Nathaniel Adams, a PAG member representing
historical interests in Milton. The PAG, public and team that
have worked so hard on this project should not be subject to the narrow
view handed down by the National Trust.
Does this organization have the right to stop the project,
another PAG member asked.
Carr said neither the National Trust nor the Section 106 Consulting
Parties can stop the project. The decision rests with the states of
Kentucky and Indiana and the Federal Highway Administration on what
they wish to do with the bridge.
The National Trust has issued an opinion. We are respectful of
that opinion and we have recorded it, he said. Once we have
all the information on the existing piers and the more detailed studies,
a more informed decision can be made about this option.
Another PAG Member, attorney Nathaniel Adams,
During the online chat, Link Ludington, an Indiana Department of Natural
Resources historic sites architectural historian, asked In
the event that building on the existing piers is ruled out, would evaluation
of any proposal for possible re-use of the old bridge by another entity
likely be a direct result of the Section 106 process?
Team members said this would typically be a condition of a Memorandum
of Agreement, part of the 106 process. Any proposals for taking over
the bridge would be considered by KYTC after the 106 process has been
Although an initial Section 106 meeting was held in February for the
bridge project, another one is not scheduled until mid-summer when the
Area of Potential Effect, has been narrowed, said Sorenson.
Officials have involved us in the process so far, said John
Stacier of Historic Madison Inc., one of the organizations involved
in the 106 process. We certainly hope to be involved further as
the project develops.
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