Getting Started

Work begins on
Milton-Madison Bridge project

Economic impact on community
is topic for Dec. 7 meeting

By Laura Hodges
Contributing Writer

(December 2010) – Although construction does not begin in earnest until January, workers have already begun activity on the new U.S. Hwy. 421 Milton-Madison Bridge. Most of the work in December will take place on the Kentucky side of the river.
The bridge superstructure is due to be replaced by Sept. 15, 2012. The $103 million contract was awarded to Walsh Construction Co. of LaPorte, Ind.

How the Bridge Replacement
Project will be done
Step 1

Existing bridge remains open
to traffic. Temporary approach ramps
are built on Vaughn Drive and SR 36.
Pier strengthening and widening begins.

Step 2

Bridge closes to traffic for five days.
Approach ramps are connected to
existing bridge. Existing bridge re-opens.
Pier strengthening work continues.

Step 3

Temporary bridge piers are constructed
15 feet downstream from existing bridge.

Step 4

Existing bridge remains open.
New truss superstructure is erected
on temporary piers. Permanent
approaches are built.

Step 5

Downstream bridge is connected to
U.S. Hwy. 421. Traffic is rerouted
onto downstream bridge.

Step 6

Existing bridge is demolished.

Step 7

Traffic remains open on downstream
bridge. Temporary approach ramps
are removed. Pier strengthening
and widening is completed.

Step 8

Downstream bridge closes for five
days. Using steel rails and plates,
new truss superstructure is
moved from temporary piers to
its permanent place on strengthened
existing piers. New bridge re-opens.
Temporary piers are removed.

In the coming weeks, workers will take geotechnical borings near Milton, Ky. These earth samples will give information on the soil that will support the temporary access ramps to be built just east of the present bridge entrance in Milton. These temporary approaches will be built in early 2011, said John Carr of Wilber Smith Associates, the consultants hired to oversee the project. Carr is project manager for the environmental phase of the bridge project, which is nearly complete.
The borings will also be searched for archeological artifacts. Contractors must be sure of the archeological significance of the site before building can proceed. Archeology work will be done by ASC Group Inc. of Columbus, Ohio.
On the Indiana side, Walsh Construction Co. has begun setting up portable offices in Madison’s Jaycee Park, which will serve as a staging area throughout the two-year construction period. Construction equipment and materials will be stored in the park, which will be closed to the public for safety reasons.
After construction is completed, Walsh will restore the park. The company plans to build a new picnic shelter, install new playground equipment and basketball goals, and volleyball courts. In addition to restoring the riverfront walk, Walsh will also construct a sidewalk in Jaycee Park on the north side of Vaughn Drive.
Another milestone for the bridge planning will take place on Dec. 7 when members of the Section 106 Consulting Parties – the preservation consultation group – will meet at Clifty Inn.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss changes to initial agreement previously negotiated between the governmental entities for building the bridge and those who have an interest in preserving the affected communities of Madison and Milton.
Changes are needed because many of the commitments made in the document were based on the belief that the bridge would be closed for a year or more. With innovative construction techniques, Walsh Construction intends to close the bridge only 10 days during the 21-month construction period.
Local representatives of the Section 106 team say they are pleased that the document on the table for discussion retains all of the mitigation funding that had been agreed to earlier. If agreed to by all parties, this funding will include:
• Up to $205,000 for a heritage tourism and promotional marketing effort for Madison;
• Up to $40,000 for tourism and promotional marketing assistance for Milton;
• Up to $80,000 over two years to reimburse the Madison Main Street Program for helping businesses on both sides of the river adjust to market disruption caused by bridge construction;
n Up to $80,000 over two years to hire a Madison Historic Preservation Officer.
Money for these four items will be paid jointly by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
“They basically said ‘Yes, there is still an impact on the community,’ ” said Jan Vetrhus, a member of the Section 106 Consulting Parties who chairs the city of Madison’s mitigation committee. She is eager to see approval of the agreement at the meeting so the city can begin its mitigation effort, including hiring a preservation officer to serve during 2011 and 2012.
The meeting will also address the question of ferries. The discussion document proposes that no ferry service is needed because of the short closures – just two periods of five days each. Carr said, however, that there is another proposal that ferries be provided only for emergency vehicles during the five-day closures. No decision has been reached.
After agreement is reached on all the mitigation measures, Carr said his firm will complete the environmental document. That will occur no later than Jan. 31.
Contractors will hold a public meeting sometime in January, when there is more information available about construction techniques and schedules.
Walsh Construction is using a “design-build” technique that will allow the bridge to be built more quickly than conventional techniques. “Design-build” means that construction of the bridge will begin while designers are completing their drawings for future phases of bridge construction. The concept effectively telescopes the construction timeline.
Walsh is also going to use an innovative bridge-sliding technique that will use hydraulics to pull the entire 3,181-foot truss and roadway onto the existing piers after it is constructed on temporary supports. It is this technique that is allowing Walsh limit bridge closure to only 10 days – five in spring 2011 and five later in the construction process to slide the new superstructure into place atop the modernized existing piers. It has been described as the largest bridge-sliding project in North America.

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