Milton-Madison Bridge

Cable stay bridges are
popular designs among area residents

Consultants take pulse
on community at public meeting

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(March 2009) – Cable stay bridge designs emerged as the most popular among residents of both sides of the Ohio River when polled for their preference during a Feb. 12 meeting at the Brown Gym. The highly publicized meeting drew a crowd of more than 160 people to view various bridge designs that could someday be considered for a new bridge connecting Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.

Milton-Madison Bridge Project Logo

The meeting was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates, the consulting firm leading the three-year, $5 million engineering, design and environmental study.
The 18 designs presented to the public were divided into three sections, arch bridges, truss bridges and cable stay bridges. Each design had views from different perspectives so the public could envision what each would look like from driving on the bridge and standing on the ground.
Attendees were given a hand-held electronic polling device that measured the responses to the various bridge designs, which were projected on a large screen. The audience could see the polling results almost immediately on a second screen. The program was designed by Ted Grossardt, of the Policy and Systems Analysis Division of the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky. It has been used successfully with other infrastructure projects in the past.
“This is not a presidential election where you only vote once and go home,” he said. “This is just the first step.”
Using a scale of one to nine, the polling revealed that all but one of the cable stay bridge designs received an average rating better than five by the participants. The last design shown – that of a modern-looking bridge – received an average better than six.
Surprisingly, the truss bridge designs – similar to the existing bridge – received low ratings. Most of those designs were given an average rating of about three or lower. The arch designs were rated by the audience as better than the truss designs but not quite as high as the cable stay designs.
As far as color, the light colored bridge also consistently scored higher than darker bridges. A darker truss bridge that resembled a railroad bridge received the lowest rating, at 1.6, of all the designs. Audience members called that particular design “boring” and too similar to a “railroad bridge.”
“This is just a testing phase,” Grossardt reminded the audience. “We simply want to know what you and your friends want to look at. There will be more of these types of meetings as we move forward in the process.”

Cable Stay Bridge

Photo provided

This example of a cable stay bridge
was the top choice of participants
at a public polling during a recent
meeting of the Milton-Madison
Bridge project.

The design team will take the audience preferences and narrow down the choices to six before again presenting them to the public later in the year.
Also during the meeting, display boards showing possible locations of a new bridge were displayed. Attendees were asked to complete a location survey form, as well.
During an interview prior to the public meeting, project manager John Carr said the purpose of the meeting was to help build public consensus, which is part of the requirements of the environmental study. “The preference polling and public meetings give us information that we would not have otherwise known.”
He said the decision to start the polling preferences this early in the process helps speed things up. “The design process for the proposed Louisville bridge project tacked on an extra two and a half years. We used what we learned from doing that project to move this one along faster.”
Carr said construction of a new bridge at least five to seven years away if a location is chosen and funding is available. He said there is $45 million identified for this type of project already budgeted into the Kentucky Trans-portation Department’s six-year plan. He also said there is $10 million in Indiana Department of Transportation’s Major Moves Plan.
If the decision is made to erect a new superstructure on top of the existing piers, the project could be completed within three years. But that would mean closing the bridge for up to nine months.
“We are trying to move as quickly as possible. We have a sick bridge; although, I’ve seen much worse,” he said. “We bought some time with the 1997 rehabilitation, but if we have to do another one, we may not be able to keep the bridge open at all during it.”
Another rehabilitation project would slow everything down and could actually keep the bridge closed longer than a superstructure replacement, he said.
Already, geotechnical crews from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have worked to obtain pier core samples from the bridge.
Engineers will test the viability of the existing piers, which could be used during a replacement of the superstructure, an alternative being considered for the Milton-Madison Bridge Project. Results are expected in the spring of this year.
Although Carr was re-assuring about how safe the bridge currently is, he said if there was a catastrophic situation involving the bridge, “There are emergency processes in place to expedite and solve the situation.”
When the I-35W Mississippi River bridge in Minneapolis collapsed during rush hour traffic in August 2007, officials still had to follow all of the rules and procedures to get an emergency replacement that opened a year later. “The rules were not waved,” said Carr. “The situation simply had everyone’s attention.”
He said both Indiana and Kentucky officials are paying attention to the Milton-Madison bridge situation and have a “strong commitment” to the project. “If no one cared, they wouldn’t be spending $5 million to come up with a solution.”

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

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