Funding Dilemma

Bridge project gets $20 million
in federal stimulus funding

Project leaders had applied
for a $95 million grant

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

Milton-Madison Bridge

Photo by Don Ward

The Milton-Madison Bridge has
been considered functionally obsolete
but still carries nearly 10,000 vehicles
a day. A 15-ton truck weight
was imposed in summer 2009.

(March 2010) – A $20 million federal grant is a step in the right direction toward obtaining the money needed for a $131 million project to replace the Milton-Madison Bridge, officials said at a press conference on Feb. 24 at Madison City Hall. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood traveled to Madison to deliver the news of the grant.
“We had $60 billion in applications apply for $1.5 billion in (transportation) grants,” said LaHood. There were 1,400 applications and the Milton-Madison Bridge Project was one of just 50 that received grant money. “There should not be one negative word said about a $20 million grant because it jumpstarts the opportunity.”
“If the upcoming jobs bill is passed, more money could become available,” LaHood continued. “There are different pots of money that the bridge could get.”
Award recipients for the TIGER grant were selected based on several factors: contribution to economic competitiveness of the nation, improving safety and the condition of the existing transportation system, increasing quality of life, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrating strong collaboration among a broad range of participants, including the private sector.
“There is no better use of tax payer money than the Milton-Madison Bridge Project,” said Baron Hill, D-Ind. “While commerce, business and economic development are important, safety of the people is the top priority.”

Bob Zier, Bob Talley and Baron Hill

Photo by Don Ward

From left, INDOT’s Bob Zier and
FHWA’s Bob Tally talk with
Congressman Baron Hill (D-Ind.)
after federal Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood (below)
visited Madison in February.

Prior to the press conference, LaHood went for a ride across the 89-year-old, functionally deficient and functionally obsolete bridge that has two, narrow lanes. “I was scared to death,” he said. “This is an unsafe bridge. It needs to be replaced.”
Milton-Madison Bridge Project leaders, lead by consulting firm Wilbur, Smith Associates, had applied for $95 million in TIGER funding for the project. Kentucky and Indiana had agreed to pay for the additional funds needed to complete the project.
Kentucky had alternative plans in place in case the TIGER grant did not materialize. Gov. Steve Beshear’s Recommended 2010-2016 Highway Plan, currently before the Kentucky General Assembly, provides for $89.4 million in federal bridge-replacement funding for the project, which is more than enough for Kentucky’s share.
“Gov. Beshear didn’t take anything for granted,” said Chuck Wolfe, a public affairs official for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “The bridge project wasn’t dependent on that TIGER grant money.”
According to Indiana Department of Trans-
portation’s Chief Executive Bob Zier, Indiana has its money, too. “Indiana has money,” he said. “We have what we call a Money Bags Fund that we will use for this project.”
Both states are in negotiations on the funding and pledge to work together to get the project up and moving.
Earlier this year, according to Milton-Madison Bridge Project officials at Wilbur, Smith Associates, bids were to be let by spring, with some construction starting by summer. The bridge had been slated to be closed in January 2011 for up to a year while the old superstructure was removed and the new one put in place. Projects receiving

Randy Stevens

Photo by Don Ward

From left, Trimble County, Ky.,
Judge Executive Randy Stevens
speaks during the recent visit to
Madison by federal Transportation
Secretary Ray LaHood as
Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong and
Congressman Baron Hill (D-Ind.) listen.

TIGER grant funding had to be finished by February 2012.
It is unclear whether the timeline will stay the same with only a partial TIGER grant funding. However, several officials have alluded to the same time frame.
“We could be advertising within a few weeks and letting bids in June,” said Zier. “We are aiming for a July start to the project.”
“We feel good about the project,” said Wolfe, “It should be within the same time frame as originally thought.”
During the press conference, local leaders were given a chance to express their gratitude for the federal funds, which were part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package.
“Replacing this bridge is a straight necessity, not a convenience like other projects that already have a viable, safe bridge,” said Randy Stevens, Trimble County, Ky., Judge-Executive. “I am relieved to know that Indiana has its funding because Kentucky stands good for our side. The $20 million from the TIGER grant is the push we need to get this through.”
Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong said: “Our bridge has needed to be replaced for over 20 years. This $20 million grant sets in motion the construction of a safe and reliable river crossing that will serve Madison well into the future. I am thankful to both states and the federal government this support.”

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

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