Engineering Feat

Contractor to build new bridge
by closing current one only 10 days

Motorists will cross on a temporary bridge
to be erected during the year-long project

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

11-10 Indiana Edition Cover

November 2010
Indiana Edition Cover

(November 2010) – Residents on both sides of the Ohio River have reacted with surprise, happiness and relief to the news announced in October that the U.S. Hwy. 421 bridge between Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky., can be replaced in 21 months with only 10 days of traffic closure.
A $103 million contract has been awarded to Walsh Construction Co. of LaPorte, Ind., at a savings of 15 percent off the engineer’s estimate of $121 million. Work begins in January.
Although many questions about the project remain contractors are sure about one thing: It will be an unprecedented undertaking.
Never before on the Ohio River has a 3,181-foot truss and roadway been fully constructed and then pushed into place, as the Milton-Madison Bridge is projected to be by Sept. 15, 2012.
“We expect this is the largest bridge-sliding process in North America. There will be a lot of people come to watch it. We’re expecting it will be ‘engineer day’ in Madison and Milton,” said Project Manager John Carr of Wilbur Smith Associates.
“I’m excited about it and the more I hear about it the more excited I get,” said Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens.
“It’s an innovative approach to getting the bridge replaced,” said Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong, adding, “It’s great news for us.”
Milton Mayor Denny Jackson reacted, “I think it is all very encouraging. I think it will be a nifty feat. It will sure be a plus for both sides.”
“I’m thrilled that we’re looking at a potential of only 10 days bridge closure. That’s key,” said John Staicer, president of Historic Madison Inc.

Bridge Rendering

New Milton-Madison Bridge rendering.

Project Manager Carr presided over an Oct. 20 informational meeting held in Madison, during which the steps of the bridge project were outlined, from construction of temporary bridge approaches through the movement of the new bridge onto the rehabbed concrete piers. His presentation focused on public safety and convenience.
Phase 1A: The first construction phase is projected to start in January. Traffic will be maintained on the existing bridge. Walsh will construct temporary bridge approaches east of the existing bridge. In Madison, traffic will be routed along Vaughn Drive and Ferry Street to State Road 56. In Milton, the temporary access will be built through the Milton boat ramp parking lot. For the temporary supports, large metal pipes will be driven into the riverbed just 15 feet downriver from each of the existing piers. These pipes will support the weight of the new superstructure as it is built and also the weight of traffic during Phase 3. Existing bridge piers will be modernized during Phase 1A as well.

Milton-Madison Bridge Logo

Groundbreaking Plans

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for sometime on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 30, possibly on the bridge itself, and including Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. From 7-9 p.m., several events are planned at the Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St. They include performances by the Madison Bicentennial Band and showings of the historic 1929 bridge dedication film and a video of the groundbreaking ceremony held earlier that day.
On Wednesday, Dec. 1, an Open House is planned at Madison City Hall to display a model of the future Milton-Madison Bridge. The model will be provided by Walsh Construction Co. Construction information will be provided. For more information on the Milton-Madison Bridge project, visit: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

Phase 1B: In late spring 2011 the bridge will be closed for five days to connect the temporary bridge approaches to the existing bridge. Existing bridge spans 3 and 12, at either end of the bridge, will be removed.
Phase 2: The existing bridge will be re-opened to traffic, using the temporary bridge approaches. The permanent bridge superstructure will be built atop the temporary piers. Permanent road and bridge approaches will be constructed. Temporary tie-in spans will be built.
Phase 3: Traffic will be rerouted onto the new bridge superstructure, over the temporary bridge piers. The old bridge superstructure will be dismantled and taken away. Temporary bridge approaches will be removed. Modernization of the existing bridge piers will be completed.
Phase 4: The second five-day closure will occur in late summer 2012 as the new superstructure is moved into its permanent position.
Phase 4B: The new bridge will be opened to vehicular traffic. By contract, this will take place by Sept. 15, 2012. Temporary piers will be removed and the sidewalk will be constructed after the bridge is opened to traffic.
Aside from the start and finish dates, contractors were not prepared to assign dates to the various phases of construction. A more detailed timetable will emerge over the next few months as design details are worked out.
In addition to Walsh Construction, other contractors on the design-build team that won the contract are Burgess & Niple Inc., an engineering firm with offices in Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, and Buckland & Taylor, a bridge engineering firm in Seattle. Buckland & Taylor has experience designing bridges that slide into place after completion.
Michael Baker Jr. Inc. and Wilbur Smith Associates will continue to be involved in the project as construction inspectors.
At the Oct. 20 meeting, Carr addressed the question of whether the bridge will be safe for traffic throughout the construction process.
The answer is an unequivocal yes, he said. “There will be nothing built that we wouldn’t let our families ride on,” he said. Weight limits for the temporary bridge have not yet been set.
Charlie Gannon, the Walsh Construction project manager assigned to the construction site, said the temporary bridge supports will be made of very large metal pipes, installed vertically. The temporary pilings will meet all safety standards. “Structurally, they’ll be sound but it’s not anything you’d want in the river forever,” he stated.
The cost of constructing the temporary bridge piers will be less than the cost of running ferries across the river for a year, which is why Walsh could underbid its four competitors. No decision has been made about whether ferries will run during the 10 days of bridge closure.
Aaron Stover, Project Manager with Michael Baker Jr. Inc., said: “Walsh’s proposal did include ferry service, but because of the dramatically shortened bridge closure, we are expecting a proposal from Walsh to eliminate it. It will be up to the states to decide whether or not to accept the proposal.”

John Carr

"We expect this is the largest bridge-sliding process
in North America." – John Carr, Wilbur Smith Associates

He continued: “You keep hearing us refer to this as a ‘design-build’ project. What that means is that the design and construction phases of the project will overlap to save time. Walsh is busy now developing design plans, so more details on the project will start to emerge in the coming months.”
Trimble County’s Stevens said his 13 years of experience as a welder and pipe fitter at Dow Corning leads him to believe the temporary bridge support will be strong. “From what I’ve heard so far, I have full confidence that it can work. I’m going to use the bridge just as I use it now,” he said.
Stevens continued, “I think the key here is to believe in people who have the education, training and know-how to test temporary structures, to test load-ratings. I will trust the work of professionals.”
Madison’s Armstrong agreed, noting that the bridge design and construction will be approved by three agencies: the Federal Highway Administration, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “If it weren’t able to be done, they wouldn’t have signed off on it,” said Armstrong.
Local residents will soon see signs that work is beginning. Armstrong reports that Walsh Construction hopes to mobilize the first part of November. On the Madison side, Jaycee Park is expected to become a staging area. Additional construction trailers may be placed in the city campground during the non-camping season.
Stevens said he hopes to offer a hiring office in Trimble County. Many residents are eager to start work on a new project now that LG&E has completed the $1.3 billion expansion of its Trimble County power plant.
Armstrong has been pleased with the two-state, non-partisan support that will get the bridge started in record time. “We need to continue to work together and keep communication open” while dealing with environmental and historic preservation concerns about the construction plans, he said.
Project manager Carr said, “This is one of the fastest projects I’ve been involved with since NEPA came into effect.” NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970. He said the reason is the great cooperation among all the partners, including Indiana, Kentucky and the Federal Highway Administration. “The bridge is in a pretty sorry state. When everybody saw what kind of shape it’s in, everybody pulled together to get it done,” said Carr.

Pat Osborne Larry Collins Aaron Stover John Carr

Photo by Laura Hodges

Sharing observations after the
Oct. 20 post-letting informational
meeting in Madison are (from left)
Assistant Project Manager Pat Osborne
of Michael Baker Jr. Inc.; Project
Supervisor Larry Collins of Michael Jr.
Inc.; Project Supervisor Aaron
Stover of Michael Baker Jr. Inc.;
and Project Manager John Carr of
Wilbur Smith Associates.

Staicer said vibration from pile-driving the temporary bridge supports could cause damage to historic buildings such as the Key West Shrimp House. The restaurant on Ferry Street was a button factory in Madison’s early days. As plans for the bridge developed, preservation concerns were addressed through a memorandum of understanding developed earlier this year under Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Since the contract with Walsh Construction specifies an unexpected method of construction, the memorandum of understanding will be renegotiated, with participation by local parties such as Historic Madison Inc.
As part of the bridge project, Madison had expected to receive $205,000 and Milton $40,000 in marketing funds to mitigate the impact of the 365-day bridge closure. In addition, $80,000 had been earmarked to hire a historic preservation officer to keep an eye out for local interests. An additional $80,000 was promised for the Madison Main Street Program. Now that the bridge is expected to be closed only 10 days, it is unclear how much mitigation money will be available.
Transportation authorities will continue to update the project website with new information as it becomes available. It can be accessed at www.miltonmadisonbridge.com.
Meantime, a groundbreaking ceremony has been set for Nov. 30 on the Madison riverfront. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear are expected to join other dignitaries for the event.
“I’ll be glad to see both governors and the departments of transportation here. It’s something we’ve been talking about for 30 years at least,” said Mayor Armstrong.
Meanwhile, Stevens said he is looking forward two years to an even happier moment. “There will be no celebration like the celebration we will have when we have a new, modern, safe bridge between our communities. That’s when we’ll be able to raise our glasses to a toast – when it’s all done and over.”
He said his prayers will now turn to the things no engineer can control, such as weather and river level. “Hopefully, Mother Nature will take it easy on us for a while,” said Stevens.

Back to the Milton-Madison Bridge Article Archive.



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