Milton-Madison Bridge Project

New bridge truss
to open to traffic in late April

Bridge sliding, community party
planned in late July

(February 2013)
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Don Ward

Flooding that occurred in spring 2011 and several other days of work stoppage due to inclement weather and high river levels have led to a revised construction schedule for the Milton-Madison Bridge Replacement Project.
Now the opening of the new bridge truss in its temporary position is scheduled to take place in late April. That will be followed by demolition and removal of the old bridge truss from May to July. Then the new truss will be slid into its permanent position atop the rehabilitated existing concrete piers in late July, according to Bridge Construction Team officials.
Walsh Construction Co. lost 108 days in 2011 due to the large amount of rainfall that occurred in the spring of that year. What is normally 35 inches of rain falling in this area of the Ohio River Valley each year, in 2011 it reached a high of 70 inches, officials said. So far this year several days of work stoppage has occurred due to high river levels and the sub-zero temperatures, which have prevented workers from pouring concrete on the new bridge truss deck.

Last section of new bridge

Photo courtesy of Debbie Crawford

The last steel section of the new Milton-Madison Bridge truss is set into place in December. Work on the bridge deck was stalled in January due to high river levels and sub-zero temperatures. It is hoped that traffic can be diverted onto the new truss in late April and that it can be slid into its permanent position in late July. The new targeted completion date for the project has been moved to Oct. 14.

As soon as the temperatures return to normal, workers will set to work completing the bridge deck and connecting ramps to the truss in its temporary position just 15 feet downstream from the old bridge. Traffic is expected to be routed onto the new bridge truss in late April using the original approaches, which have been widened and rebuilt on both sides of the river.
Traffic will enter on the permanent approaches, then take a short dogleg onto the new bridge truss while it is in this position. The temporary supports and dogleg approaches will be removed after the new bridge truss is slid into its permanent position.
When complete, this will be the longest bridge span slid into place in this manner, topping a recent 12-hour sliding of the Sellwood Bridge that took place Jan. 19 near Portland, Ore. That bridge span of 1,100 feet was being hailed as the longest such bridge slide in the nation. It involved moving the 87-year-old Sellwood Bridge into a temporary position so a new bridge can be built in its place.

Milton-Madison Bridge
Updated Schedule

• Late April: New bridge truss opens to traffic in its temporary position
• May-July: Demolition and disposal of old bridge truss
• Late July: New bridge truss to be slid atop rehabilitated existing piers
• Oct. 14: Project to be complete
• Information: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com

The planned Milton-Madison Bridge slide, meanwhile, involves moving a 2,427-foot new truss into its final resting place. Using hydraulic jacks, the slide is expected to take several hours during the second of two planned five-day closures. The event also is expected to draw a large crowd, both from the public and the engineering community.
The current weight limit of three tons is expected to be raised to 15 tons on the new truss in its temporary position. Therefore, semi-trucks will still be prohibited from crossing the bridge until it is slid into its permanent position.
The new completion date for the project has been moved to Oct. 14, meaning Walsh Construction Co. equipment must be out of the main “footprint” of the bridge by then and the park shelter and volleyball court must be replaced on the Madison side. The Jay-C Park will be rebuilt later in an agreement with the city, officials said. Even after the Oct. 14 completion deadline, Walsh can move its equipment to a staging area it created on the Milton riverfront on land it is leasing from Kenny McCoy.

Falcon box

Photo courtesy of Charlie Gannon

Walsh Construction Co. and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife in mid-January mounted a newly built falcon nesting box on the new bridge truss. They are hoping the birds adopt the nesting box when they return this spring.

Meantime, a committee of Madison and Milton citizens are planning a free community-wide party on July 27 to celebrate the bridge sliding event. Named the “Bridge Party...Celebrate the Slide,” the event is scheduled from 5-11 p.m. on the Madison riverfront. It will feature live music, food booths and children’s activities. Madison singer-songwriter Rusty Bladen is writing a song for the occasion and has been asked to perform it at the party. The movie “Cars” will be shown on a large screen beginning at dusk.
As for the falcons who return each spring to nest under the bridge, officials from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife have constructed a new nesting box. Together with Walsh Construction officials, in mid-January they placed the new box under the new bridge truss near the Milton side. They are hoping the falcons will accept the new nesting box, but without a deck in place yet to cover the box, officials worry the birds may not move in. The falcons like the cover the deck provides and have made a home under the old bridge for many years.
While it is uncertain whether the falcons will like and adopt the new Milton-Madison Bridge, one thing is certain: local residents and commuters will love having a new, wider, safe bridge to cross.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.

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