is the best bridge option, officials say
gives bridge poor rating
(October 2009) adison-Milton Bridge consultants
say a superstructure replacement is the best alternative to addressing
the aging bridge problem because it is the most cost-effective and quickest
way to creating a new crossing.
by Don Ward
Milton-Madison Bridge will
undergo a superstructure
replacement on the existing piers in
2011 if a federal grant is approved in
January 2010. State workers inspected
the bridge (above) in September.
Business owners, citizens and elected officials gathered
to voice support and criticism of the proposed action of the Milton-Madison
Bridge Project at a public meeting on Sept. 10 at the new Milton Elementary
School. Criticism of the superstructure replacement proposal centered
on economic concerns, while support centered on the idea that the communities
could have a safe, reliable new bridge in as little as two years.
More than 200 people listened as project leaders gave a short explanation
as to why the proposed action was the best course of action to take
for the project.
We feel it is the best approach to follow in the next few months,
said project manager John Carr. This is an opportunity to get
money that is currently not available in either states six-year
planning budget and may not be available for some time. We need to take
advantage of this.
Project officials had until Sept. 15 to apply for a $95 million federal
grant, which surprised the community when it was announced in August.
The grant money being applied for is part of the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, or economic stimulus funds. Under the terms of the
Transportation Infra-structure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)
grant, completion of the entire project, including construction, must
be done by Feb. 2012. Kentucky and Indiana have agreed to split the
additional money needed to complete the $131 million superstructure
replacement. The money will be awarded in Jan. 2010.
facts submitted with
TIGER Grant appplication
facts submitted with the TIGER Grant application
Without the bridge, the existing traffic would make an
additional 450,000 vehicle miles of travel and 4,000 vehicle hours
of travel daily.
Maintaining the Milton-Madison (US 421) Bridge results
in as much as 6 million gallons of fuel saved annually and annual
carbon reductions of 53,000 metric tons.
With a total cost of $131 million, the project is expected
to create 1,424 jobs, which includes 911 direct-indirect and 513
The project will provide travel efficiency benefits of
about $100 million per year in mileage and time savings (as opposed
to no bridge at the existing location).
If the project receives the funds, the bridge will be
shut down in 2011 when the 80-year-old superstructure is replaced with
a brand new one. The new superstructure will be built and attached to
the existing piers, which experts agree are capable of lasting for another
The bridge will be closed completely for up to 12 months while the old
superstructure is torn off and the new one put on. Ferries will shuttle
commuters back and forth and will operate 24-hours a day. The ferry
service will be free of charge. Officials are still working out the
details for the ferry service.
The proposed action for the superstructure replacement comes as the
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet announced on Sept. 17 that the Aug.
2009 in-depth inspection of the bridge indicated more repair work is
needed on the bridge, and that further analysis will be needed before
it is determined whether the 15-ton weight limit can be removed.
The bridge has had an overall poor rating since January
2009. An inspection conducted in December 2008 revealed a need for repair
work on some gusset plates.
The report is not surprising, said David Steele, KYTC Engineer
for Bridge Preservation. It confirms what we suspected; the Milton-Madison
Bridge is deteriorating and needs to be replaced.
I didnt like the idea of the superstructure replacement
at first, said Markt Lytle, a former Madison mayor and state representative.
While in office during the 1980s, Lytle worked with other area officials
to get something done about the deteriorating bridge. He said at that
time, our bridge was treated as a stepchild to the Louisville,
Ky., bridges. When you think about it, it makes sense to apply
for this grant. Officials would wonder why we didnt apply for
Lytle also asked if there was any mitigation possible for economic impact.
We are looking at mitigation for economic impact, said Tim
Sorenson, deputy project manager for Wilbur, Smith Associates, the lead
consultants on the project. We have economists trying to figure
out the economic impact of the bridge closure.
During a Sept. 17 online forum through the projects website, www.Milton
MadisonBridge.com, the management team said economic study results would
be finished in Dec. 2009.
Concerned citizen Nancy Gaines was worried that older workers, factory
workers and children would particularly suffer if the bridge is closed
for up to a year for the superstructure replacement.
We arent a big community. Why didnt officials start
the money process years ago? she asked. If people lose their
jobs, who cares if we have a new bridge?
Im in favor of superstructure replacement if funds are available
now, said Ripley County, Ind., resident Herman Stromf, who argued
that the bridge project is a regional one that affects many more counties
and communities than Milton and Madison. A bird in the hand is
worth two in the bush. We can plan for a bridge closure now, but an
unplanned closure would be tougher. He also suggested officials
request enough ferry service to accommodate the bridge traffic.
Madison resident Camille Fife asked for information about other superstructure
replacement projects that actually worked and were finished.
Aaron Stover, a civil engineer at Michael Baker Corp, another firm working
in collaboration on the bridge project, responded with several examples
said these types of superstructure projects are not new, and that there
were several being completed across the nation.
The question was also asked as to why the project was being conducted
if there was not enough money to start with in the two states
budget to complete it.
We would do the projects environmental and design study,
and find a solution to build eventually down the road, said Sorenson.
During the online forum, the bridge project management team said if
the TIGER grant funds are not approved, We will still move forward
with the proposed action for the superstructure replacement.
Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong delivered a short speech in support of the
proposed action. He urged the combined communities to support the action,
and for people to take politics out of the decision-making process.
He also addressed areas of contention about the process that had come
to his attention.
In response to questions about the credibility of the process, he said
Numerous public meetings have been held and minutes of these meetings
have been posted on the projects website.
He also addressed concerns about behind the scenes negotiating.
It is perfectly normal and accepted practice for federal, state
and local government officials to communicate by virtue of their positions
in helping to determine realistic outcomes based upon resources and
He listed numerous elected leaders from both Kentucky and Indiana who
support the proposed action of the project, including Indiana Gov. Mitch
Daniels, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.),
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), U.S. Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), Kentucky
State Rep. Rick Rand, Indiana State Rep. David Cheatham, Trimble County
Judge-Executive Randy Stevens, and former Madison Mayor Al Huntington.
Rand, who serves the Milton area, said he has worked since 1991 to get
a new bridge in the area. The most important question people ask
me is when are we going to get a new bridge, he said. Ive
worked for four governors, and now we are actually talking about building
He called the comments of the concerned citizens great and well
thought out, but said, Revenue is in the tank, and the state
of Kentucky cant afford to build a bridge. It is very difficult
to predict what will happen in the future.
Back to October 2009