Building the bridge

Six locations being examined
for future Milton-Madison bridge

Next meeting will explore best site

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(January 2009) – While a committee of engineers, designers and area residents from both sides of the Ohio River debate the best location for a new Milton-Madison Bridge, the ultimate decision will be made by the Kentucky Department of Transportation, say officials.

Possible New Bridge Locations

Source: Project Advisory Group

Milton-Madison Bridge Proposed Locations
1. Western Bypass
Located four miles downstream of the existing bridge, this site would take the bridge out of Madison and Milton, thereby alleviating traffic from both downtowns. There would be four miles of connecting roadway on difficult terrain and several historic structures to contend with; however, the bridge would be located outside of Madison’s National Historic Landmark District.
2. Jefferson Street, Madison
Two possible alternatives for a Jefferson Street approach on the Madison side were suggested. Both alternatives would impact parks in Madison and have to contend with the National Historic Landmark District. There would be flood plain issues with these alternatives, and in alternative B, Coopers Bottom Road on the Milton side would have to be raised 30-40 feet. Because of grade issues, the tie down would occur between Second Street and Main Street, and parallel frontage roads would have to be built between Main Street and Vaughn Drive.
3. Parallel to Existing Bridge
This alternative would bring the approaches out of the flood plain with new connections above the existing roadway and would maintain the truck runaway ramp in Milton; however issues on how to tie into existing roadways and address safety concerns would have to be resolved. This alternative would impact the Third Street Historic District in Milton, and the commercial, historic and residential impacts in Madison.
4. KY Hwy. 36, Milton
This alternative would bring the approaches out of the flood plain and maintain truck runaway ramp in Milton. However, it would impact multiple historic properties and Milton’s Third Street Historic District. It would also impact homes and business in Milton and Madison.
5. Ferry Street, Madison
This alternative would require an overpass to Ky. 36 and a new connection to US 421 in Madison could be out of the floodplain and improve curve problems. It would use or parallel School Hollow Road. However this alternative would impact commercial, historic and residential properties and would require additional roadwork in Milton.
6. Lonesome Hollow, Madison
This site would be one mile east of the existing bridge and would require overpasses for Indiana’s State Hwy. 56 and KY 36. The bridge would be situated in the Hunters Bottom Historic District and would be near at least one historic property. There are also known archaeological sites on the Indiana side.

But a series of monthly meetings has begun to explore all aspects of building the future bridge. At the third meeting in the series, held Dec. 9, engineers from Wilbur Smith Associates Inc. presented the pros and cons with six different bridge locations. No recommendations were made, but the public was given the opportunity to provide input and examine the data.



The current bridge, built in 1929, has been determined to be “functionally obsolete and structurally deficient” by state inspectors, yet it continues to be used as the only crossing between Louisville and Markland Dam. Replacing the busy artery connecting the two states will be a long, arduous process.
“Not one of the proposed sites for a new bridge addresses everyone’s concerns,” said Tim Sorenson, deputy project manager for Wilbur Smith Associates. “There is no magic bullet.”
His firm, based in Lexington, Ky., is conducting a three-year, $5 million engineering, design and environmental study on a possible replacement bridge.
A possible Jefferson Street connection received much of the scrutiny from project advisory members. In this proposal, a bridge across the Ohio River would tie into Ky. Hwy. 36 in Milton and cross the river to Jefferson Street in Madison. Because of grade requirements over the river channel, a tie down would occur between Second Street and Main Street in Madison. Both the Third Street Historic District in Milton and the National Historic Landmark District in Madison would be impacted, as well as the park and riverfront along Vaughn Drive in Madison.
“Jefferson Street has the width for a bridge and frontal streets,” said Sorenson. Engineers weren’t sure yet if Second Street under such a bridge would be clear for automotive traffic, but pedestrians and bicyclists would have ample room to navigate. “There would be room for angled parking under the bridge,” said Sorenson.
An example of a similar bridge in Ashland, Ky., was shown to advisory board members. Citizen representative Ann Grahn of Madison was one of the project advisory group members who voiced concerns about this site alternative. “Our downtown community would be cut in half,” she said. “In such a small community, that could have a huge impact.”



Other site selections included a parallel bridge site, a western bypass alternative that would re-route traffic out of the downtown areas in both communities, an alternative location through Lonesome Hollow and a Ky. 36 alternative with access via High Street in Madison and Coopers Bottom Road in Milton.
While locations for a possible new bridge location dominated the discussion at the meeting, several other options for the Milton Madison Bridge have not been completely tabled. One includes the “do-nothing” option, which J.D. Williams, of Michael Baker Jr. Inc., said has to be dealt with during the discussions as part of the environmental process. This option is a baseline for measurement of other alternatives.
What happens if we do nothing?” said Williams. “The bridge would close to truck traffic potentially by 2020 and then to all traffic around 2025.”
Mary Jo Hamman, the Indiana Director of Transportation for Michael Baker Inc., said there is a rehabilitation option “that would keep the bridge open for 25 years.”
“This option involves a more extensive repair and restoration project than the one completed in 1997,” she said. “However, it wouldn’t take care of any geometric problems such as the narrow lanes and approach problems.”
Under that option, there would be more frequent inspections, and deterioration would continue, but at a slower rate than the “do-nothing” alternative. The option to rehabilitate would keep the bridge open until about 2045.
The possibility that a new bridge would be built on the existing site was also discussed. The new bridge would use the existing substructure of the old bridge. In December, sub-contractors for Wilbur Smith Associates conducted tests on the bridge to see if the substructure could hold a new superstructure.
“It’s not always possible to put a new superstructure on an existing substructure,” but it is an alternative to consider,” said Williams. “We’ll just have to see.”
That kind of alternative would require the bridge to be closed for one entire construction season of March-November and would require other means of emergency transportation across the river during that time. It would however be less costly than a new bridge.
A brief review of the previous meetings in which the purpose and need of such a replacement project was led by John Mettille, senior environmental project manager for Wilbur Smith Associates. “Once the purpose and needs and goals of the project are refined, a final proposal will be submitted to transportation officials in Kentucky and Indiana,” he said.
In January, the project advisory group will discuss bridge design, and in February, the first public meeting for the bridge project will be held. The time, date and place of the next meeting has not been set.

• For more information about the Milton-Madison Bridge Project, visit www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

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