Groundbreaking Celebration

Madison to hold its own bridge
groundbreaking celebration

Kickoff would be Nov. 30
ceremony by bridge officials

By Don Ward

(October 2010) – It may seem premature to begin thinking about how to celebrate the new Milton-Madison Bridge re-opening in fall 2012, but a committee representing various business and nonprofit groups has been discussing just that.

Milton-Madison Bridge Project logo

Jan Vetrhus, who headed last year Madison’s Bicentennial Celebration, chairs the group, which meets monthly at Madison’s City Hall. She is aware of the festivities that occurred in December 1929 when the current bridge was dedicated and opened. While she says it is unlikely to see 18 queens and 73 parade floats from dozens of communities rolling down Main Street, like there were back then, the plans are shaping up to include bands, music and more.
“It’s hard to think about all that when there is so much to do right now,” Vetrhus said. “We are just about ready to get the news on the contract bid letting, and that will really set things in motion.”
Indiana Depart-ment of Transpor-tation officials on Sept. 22 received and reviewed construction and design bids from five companies and are expected to select the winning company in early October. At that time, details on the construction timeline and bridge closing dates will be announced.
The committee, meanwhile, is working on three phases, Vetrhus said: 1. How to survive the current bridge closure during construction and getting the word out; 2. working with local businesses while the bridge is closed; 3. planning the marketing and activities surrounding the bridge re-opening.
And when the time comes, it will likely fall to this committee the task of planning what Vetrhus expects will be “a grand re-opening event” of some kind. “I’m sure there will be a ribbon-cutting, similar to the one in 1929. We do have the Madison Concert Band, which was created for the Madison Bicentennial. They are working on some music to be played along with the restored film of the first dedication ceremony of 1929.”
The 35mm nitrate, silent black-and-white film has been restored to a DVD and will soon be available for sale to the public by Historic Madison Inc.
Jenny Eggenspiller, development director for the City of Madison, also sits on the committee and says she is hopeful that the consultants’ tentative plan to hold a groundbreaking for the new bridge on Nov. 30 would be a nice kickoff event to a weeklong celebration heading into the Madison Christmas Parade on Dec. 4.
“Whether it’s Nov. 30 or some other date, we hope to make it a big deal that lasts over several days,” Eggenspiller said.
She said the committee also hopes to incorporate a “Buy Local” campaign to assist the business community through the closure of the current bridge during construction. That closure is expected to last between nine and 12 months.
“We want to do whatever we can to get the whole thing off on a positive note,” Eggenspiller said.



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