Milton-Madison Bridge

Four bridge options
selected for detailed study

Public input is sought
before final decision is made

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

A possible new bridge at either Tiber Creek or Canip Creek are among the final four considerations that will get more detailed analysis and research in the $5 million Milton-Madison Bridge Project, said officials at the April Project Advisory Group meeting.
The four alternatives that remain are:

Madison Milton Bridge Project Logo

Milton-Madison Bridge Program

Did you know a 34-year-old construction worker gave his life while building the Milton-Madison Bridge? Each time you cross the bridge, you drive above his body encased in one of the bridge piers. 
Did you know the engineering firm that supervised that bridge was “The Greatest in the World”? These are two of many facts to be revealed in a Chautauqua presentation during Madison’s Bicentennial observance at 1 p.m. on June 13. 
Section 106 consulting party and former WIKI radio owner operator George Freeman will tell the 1929 bridge story. He will offer a business plan to help pay for re-cycling the present bridge into a pedestrian-bicycle-tourist attraction. The plan includes a soaring observation tower to be built into the new bridge.  Members of the general public voted early this spring for a bridge design that would be perfect for such a tower. The program will take place at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library Auditorium, 420 W. Main St., Madison. Admission is free.

• For more information, call George Freeman at (419) 937-6030 (cell) or (419) 447-7514.

• Superstructure replacement. Tests are being conducted on the piers, which would be used if found to be viable. Those test results have yet to be concluded.
• A hybrid of original Alternatives 9 and 10 at Tiber Creek.
• A hybrid of Alternatives 11 and 12 at Canip Creek.
• Do nothing, which is required by federal law. This alternative remains to provide a baseline for comparison of other alternatives.
“This decision reflects months of hard work and careful consideration on the part of the community,” said Gary Valentine, project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Originally, there were 14 alternatives chosen for consideration. PAG members and federal, state and local officials helped narrow that selection through thorough evaluation of the project’s “Purpose and Needs Statement.” That statement was derived by a lengthy process involving PAG members and all of the agencies involved in the project. Wilbur, Smith Associates of Lexington, Ky., is the lead consultant on the project.
“The rest of the alternatives were removed from the options list because they did not meet the “Purpose and Needs” statement and because they also did not pass the secondary screening criteria,” said Tim Sorenson, an engineer for Wilbur, Smith Associates.
The Tiber Creek hybrid evolved from “Alternative 9,” which would have routed traffic around downtown Milton, Ky., and “Alternative 10,” which would have put the bridge on the Madison, Ind., side at Ferry Street.
Sorenson explained that engineers would work to get the “stop condition,” which is problematic on the current bridge, resolved with this selection. Two possible solutions, either a continuous connection that would tie the bridge to IN Hwy. 56 or a reverse curve would be further researched.
With the Canip Creek hybrid, a mixture of original “Alternatives 11 and 12,” there would be a continuous flow down Milton hill over KY Hwy. 36 that would tie into IN 56. More research would determine how to connect the bridge to KY 36 in Milton.
Sorenson also said the “Superstructure Replace-ment Alternative,” which would build a new superstructure on the existing piers and result in a complete closure of the bridge for nine to 12 months, would continue to be considered unless tests revealed the piers to be unsafe and not re-usable.
“We would not move forward unless the piers are as safe as a new bridge,” he said. “The potential is there for this option to be cheaper and faster. The existing historic location and the piers would be maintained with this option.”
Questions were raised by PAG members about whether the cost analysis of a superstructure replacement would take into consideration factors such as the cost to employers and commuters, and a detour or ferry service.
“Hardship impacts won’t be a discussion made lightly,” said John Carr, project manager. “That economic impact will be quantified with a number, which will then become a factor in any decision.”
Questions were also raised about why the “Do Nothing Alternative” had to stay on the table.
“The ‘Do-Nothing’ is not going to happen. It is simply the baseline for the project,” explained Carr. “I’d bet the farm and my next paycheck that there will be a bridge replacement. Officials are not going to spend this kind of money and then do nothing.”
Sorenson assured PAG members and members of the public who attended the meeting that there were no pre-selected alternatives. He stressed that peoples’ opinions do count.
“If it was a done deal, we could go through a much simpler process,” said Carr.
“I can tell you that from the governor to any and all public officials involved, public comment is important,” said Milton’s Jack Couch, one of the consultants on the project. “Citizens are the most important piece of this. Those of you who are here, invite your neighbors to the next meeting.”
At a May 19 Open House in Madison, Sorenson said the original Canip Creek Alternatives were developed by a man at one of the early meetings who hand-sketched a map. “We took his idea, worked with it a bit and came up with a very viable alternative,” said Sorenson. “We may have not had that alternative on the table without his help.”
During that May meeting, the public was invited to review and discuss the project’s process to date. People were asked to express their opinions and concerns about the alternatives.
Public attendance was sparse throughout the 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. meeting.
There will be several more public meetings scheduled before the end of the project, officials said. A live, online chat hosted by the consultants that was scheduled for May 22 was canceled because of the fire at the Jefferson County Courthouse. It will be rescheduled at a later date.
“We need input,” said Sorenson. “We want to hear from the public.”
Sorenson said by summer’s end “things would be narrowed down.” Field experts, including cultural historians, archaeologists, biologists and geologists will begin to do on-site research and analysis.
“We are moving as rapidly and as thoroughly as possible,” said Sorenson. “We should be finished with the environmental study by mid-2010, which would be a year earlier than expected.”

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

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