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Milton-Madison Bridge

Restoring Madison’s Jaycee Park,
Milton boat ramp under way

Bridge replacement project nears end,
leaving new amenities


 
(August 2014)
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Don Ward

As the work to install pedestrian sidewalks and handrails on the west, downriver side of the new Milton-Madison Bridge continues, down below, work on restoring the Milton, Ky., boat ramp and the Madison, Ind., Jaycee Park also proceeds.
Traffic opened on the bridge in mid-April after the infamous “bridge slide” of the 2,428-foot-long structure was complete. Now area residents are eager to see the park and other amenities restored – or in some cases improved – with the soon departure of Walsh Construction Co.

Bridge Pedway

Photo by Don Ward

The pedestrian walkway is nearing completion on the west, downriver side of the new Milton-Madison Bridge.

Madison city officials and members of the Madison Riverfront Development Committee have worked closely with Walsh Construction to develop the Jaycee Park restoration plan. Parks Director Dave Stucker has led the effort for Madison. So far, the sand volleyball courts have been completed and a shelter house has been erected on the Madison riverfront. Also, Vaughn Drive has been restored and paved just east of the bridge. The rest of the street will be paved after the project is complete. That area is still part of the construction zone for now and is blocked to traffic.
Mandatory FEMA-directed erosion control grading of the area near the river’s edge immediately beneath the bridge in Madison also has been completed.
More park amenities are planned, according to Andrew Forrester, Director of Community Relations for the City of Madison.

These include:
• Restoration of a new basketball court in the location where the Walsh Construction trailer now sits.
• Construction of a second shelter house just east of the basketball court.
• Creation of a large gravel parking lot near the second shelter and basketball court.
• Installation of new playground equipment, including swings, to be installed on a grass yard (yet to be sowed) near the existing shelter house. The area has recently been graded and ready for sowing.

Bridge

Photo by Don Ward

Walsh Construction has removed the causeway beneath the bridge that was used to deliver materials to the construction barges. Workers are now completing the installation of the pedestrian walk and handrails.

The plan also leaves room for possible future expansion by adding a second parking lot, if needed, and room for a possible future Splash Park. The Splash Park is only an idea at this point and may not occur anytime soon, Forrester said.
Walsh Construction officials also have requested space in the area to erect a marker to pay tribute to the workers who built the bridge. That is expected to be placed somewhere near the base of the bridge, possibly near the location of one of the 13,000-pound bridge “rockers” that was previously used to hold up the old bridge. These rockers are huge steel structures that were used to support the old bridge atop the concrete piers and just beneath the bridge deck. Two of the old bridge rockers were preserved from the project – one for Madison’s riverfront and another for Milton.
Last summer, Walsh Construction also preserved two six-foot-long beams from the 84-year-old bridge and donated it to the city of Madison. Forrester said no decision has yet been made about how those beams will be displayed, or where. One idea was to create a sculpture near the bridge in Madison.

Shelter

Photos by Don Ward

Walsh Construction workers have built a shelter house at Madison Jaycee Park (above) and are creating a boat dock in Milton made from one of the barge impact frames (below).

Milton Ramp

Jim Pruett, director of the Madison Riverfront Development Committee, had inquired about having Walsh leave the large causeway, or docking platform, that the company built immediately beneath the bridge to deliver materials to the barges. Pruett has hoped the causeway could be used as a docking space for boaters after the construction project is complete.
Walsh was open to the idea because it would alleviate the cost of removing it. But after some local objections were raised, Walsh removed the dock in late July. Use of the dock as a public boating facility would have required approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, city officials said.
Meantime, in Milton, Walsh Construction workers paved the Milton Boat Ramp and are now installing one of the large, steel bridge impact frames that was used to protect the temporary piers. The steel structure is being repurposed as a boat dock at the ramp. It measures 21x60 feet. Half of it will be in the water and half out of the water on the riverbank. The bridge rocker donated to Milton will be situated atop the impact frame and provide a place for people to sit.
The contractor is responsible for restoring any work areas to like or better conditions, so Walsh recently paved the boat ramp. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is reimbursing the city of Milton up to $25,000 toward the cost of installing permanent restrooms, according to Andrea Clifford, KYTC spokeswoman.
Stucker, meanwhile, said many in the Madison community have expressed interest in establishing permanent restrooms and possibly a drinking fountain near the bridge on the Indiana side, since no such facilities exist on that end of the riverfront. That is likely a longterm goal that may or may not materialize.
“That is something we would like to consider. But it might be too big of a financial burden for the park budget,” Stucker said.
Also ongoing are plans to conduct an environmental impact study as part of the process of creating a more efficient traffic approach to the new bridge in Madison. The Indiana Department of Transportation and the City of Madison reached an agreement in June to reroute and improve the approach in ex-change in turning over maintenance and control of 4.4 miles of state highways, including Hwy. 56 (Main Street) through the city.
“This opportunity is a win-win for Madison and Jefferson County,” said Madison Mayor Damon Welch in a statement. “The new approach would serve as a gateway to the community, while we develop our historic Main Street to enhance tourism.”
The first step is to complete the mandatory environmental impact study, Forrester said. That is expected to be done this fall and attempt to identify and recommend to the public the best route, with the opportunity for public input. Upon completion of the environmental review and land purchases, INDOT would finance and bid the estimated $14 million project in the fiscal year starting July 2018. It would likely take a year or more to complete the construction of the new roadway once the bid is awarded, Forrester said.
So with a new Milton-Madison Bridge comes additional amenities – park shelters, sporting facilities, a playground, boat ramps, a permanent public restroom and better road access to the bridge. Perhaps in the end, we can all agree that the long wait over the last four years of construction and delay and temporary bridge closures and boat rides and detours were finally worth it.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and INDOT officials hope to plan a bridge dedication ceremony sometime late this year to include the governors of both states, along with federal, state and local dignitaries. But for local residents and commuters, the celebration has been going on for quite some time.

• 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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