Building the bridge

Possible sites for Milton-Madison
bridge discussed at meeting

Consultanting firm Wilbur Smith
to conduct three year study

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(December 2008) – A citizen’s advisory group, led by a team of design consultants, met Nov. 13 to devise a strategy for formulating and presenting “measurable” evidence to support the need for a new bridge to span the Ohio River between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. It was the second such meeting of the newly formed Public Advisory Group, comprised of civic and governmental leaders from both sides of the river.
During the meeting, held at the Milton Elementary School, consultants from Wilbur Smith Associates of Lexington, Ky., presented several possible locations for a future bridge. No decision has been made on the location, if and when the money is found to build the bridge.

John Carr

Photo by Konnie McCollum

John Carr, vice president of the
Kentucky division of Wilbur Smith
Associates, facilitated the meeting
for the bridge advisory group.

“We are gathering all the data, looking at every alternative for the project,” said Tim Sorenson of Wilbur Smith Associates, which is conducting the three-year, $5 million engineering, design and environmental study. “We will screen them down to the preferred alternative.”
Already, consultants have dismissed the idea of a tunnel under the river because it would be too costly. A ferry service, he said, could not accommodate all of the community needs.
Sorenson said there are several alternatives left, including doing nothing, which was also dismissed. Another rehabilitation, a superstructure replacement or a new bridge at a new location were the remaining options.
Officials from the Kentucky Department of Transportation, including District 5 Public Information Officer Andrea Clifford, and Indiana Department of Transportation officials, including Seymour District spokesman Marvin Jenkins, participated in the meeting.
Community residents were encouraged to attend and observe the meeting, which did include two brief public comment periods. Anyone who wished to speak had to sign up prior to the meeting. The first informational meeting for the general public will be held on Feb. 12, 2009. The location will be announced at a later date. The next meeting for project members will be at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 in Madison. A location has not been announced.
Project participants were given a project overview at the group’s initial meeting on Oct. 9 at the Brown Gym in Madison. At the November meeting in Milton, the desired outcome of the project was discussed, as was a brief discussion on the condition of the bridge, and daily traffic counts and crash reports. John Carr, vice president of the Kentucky division of Wilbur Smith Associates, facilitated the meeting.
“While some things seem obvious to those of you who use the bridge, there must be evidence to move forward,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s John Mettille. “The need must be measurable.”

Project Advisory Group members:

• From Jefferson County, Ind.: In addition to Corey Murphy of Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County; Ann Grahn, citizens representative; John Stacier, executive director of Historic Madison Inc.; Larry DeBuhr, executive director of the Rivers Institute at Hanover College; Randy Eggenspiller, City Engineer for Madison Department of Public Works; Carla Goins, citizen representative; Warren Auxier of Auxier Gas; Bob McKinney of Dow Corning Corp; David Pennybaker of Indiand-Kentucky Electric Corp; Dave Bell of Jefferson County Emergency Management, Roger Allman, CEO of King’s Daughters’ Hospital & Health Services; Rick Lostutter, president of the Madison Area Bicycle Club; Kevin Watkins, Madison Area Chamber of Commerce; Jim Juricic, citizen representative; Sue Fisher, Madison Regatta.

• From Trimble County, Ky.: Ronnie Barnes, chief of Milton Fire and Rescue, Capt. Robert Nolan, Inland Marine Service; Neil Bryan, president of Farmers Bank of Milton; Nolan Hamilton, Magistrate of Trimble County Fiscal Court; Peter Woodburn, of Woodburn, Kyle and Co.; and Kenny McCoy, owner of Riverside Produce; Jim Overton, Overton Farms

Safety was a concern voiced by Ronnie Barnes, chief for Milton Fire and Rescue. “The movement of emergency vehicles such as an ambulance across the bridge during an emergency is a huge concern, particularly if the bridge is not functioning properly.”
Citizen representative Ann Grahn of Madison said the bridge is key to economic development in the area. Corey Murphy, executive director of Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County, also voiced concerns that the economic survival of the area is linked to the bridge.
“The bridge is an economic lifeline,” he said. “Business vitality depends on that bridge.”
Other project members voiced concerns about the narrowness of the lanes, the reliability of the bridge, the approaches and its historic qualities.
Project members also discussed what they thought would make the project successful. “Building the bridge tomorrow” was the general consensus. Sensitivity to businesses and homes in the communities, and the historic legacy were discussed. A project that doesn’t put communities on hold and a bridge built for the long term with a low maintenance budget were also discussed.
The appearance and affordability of the bridge were addressed, and project members agreed that the bridge design should show community pride yet be affordable.
The possible location of a future bridge will be the focus of a future meeting in 2009, consultants said.
Several locations were suggested for possible locations, including a future hilltop to hilltop connection from Milton to Madison. Historic Madison Inc.’s Heidi Valco Kruggel suggested a bridge just east of the existing location that would connect Indiana Hwy. 56 to U.S. Hwy. 421-KY 36. That location would require a loop around to connect to Hwy. 56, much like the Markland Dam does in Switzerland County, Ind.
Another location suggested was to connect the bridge on the Madison side to Jefferson Street because the approach would be straight, and lead right to U.S. Hwy. 421 in Indiana. A map will be drawn for project members with those possible locations and others that people may suggest in the future. Nothing definite about the location will be decided for some time.
Project members were chosen by community leaders and project managers. These people represent project stakeholders, such as property and business owners, and local interest groups. Project members are responsible for relaying project information back to the groups they represent.
A varied mix of community members on both sides of the Ohio River is included in the group (see box).

• For more information about the project, visit www.miltonmadisonbridge.com.

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