Miracle Mile

Community celebrates kickoff
of history making Bridge Project

Two governors, U.S. Transportation Secretary
join in groundbreaking ceremony in Madison

By Don Ward

January 2011 Edition Cover

January 2011
Edition Cover

(January 2011) – For the next two years beginning in January 2011, residents and visitors to Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind., will witness an engineering feat taking place across the Ohio River. The Milton-Madison Bridge Replacement Project already has garnered the attention of architects and engineers and trade publications around the country. Soon, it will become the focal point of everyday life for local drivers making the 3/4-mile-long crossing over the river as they watch the new bridge take shape.
Local officials, two governors and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood celebrated the official groundbreaking of the project Nov. 30 with hundreds of area residents at the Brown Gym in Madison. The occasion included speeches and ceremonial photographs of dignitaries posing with shovels in front of a huge banner proclaiming: “Move that bridge!” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear also took part in the celebration.
“These two governors stepped up and worked together to make a difference in their two states,” said LaHood in praising the cooperative spirit that he said has made the project possible. He also praised U.S. Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana whom he credited for requesting and pushing for the $20 million in federal stimulus money that was granted to help pay for the project.
“You can rest assured that your tax dollars are being used in this project to fix an aging infrastructure and put people to work, and it was all done in a bipartisan way.”
What began only two years ago with public hearings and meetings to explore the location of a new bridge across the Ohio River has already resulted in the launch of work to actually build a new bridge atop existing piers.

Milton-Madison Bridge Project Logo

Milton-Madison Bridge
Project Tentative
Construction Schedule

1. Existing bridge pier strengthening: January - September 2011.
2. Temporary approach ramps built on Vaughn Drive in Madison and KY Hwy. 36 in Milton: April - July 2011.
3. Bridge closes for five days while traffic is shifted onto temporary ramps: mid-July 2011.
4. Construction of downstream piers: late July - November 2011.
5. Permanent approaches are built: July - November 2011.
6. New truss is assembled on downstream piers: September 2011 - May 2012.
7. Traffic is rerouted to downstream bridge: May 2012.
8. Existing truss is demolished: May - July 2012.
9. Widening of existing piers: July- early September 2012.
10. Bridge closes for five days in September 2012 while “truss sliding” occurs.
11. Bridge re-opens to traffic in early September 2012.

What’s more amazing is the unique method by which winning contractor Walsh Construction Co. of La Porte, Ind., will get the $103 million job done – and at roughly 20 percent less than the original estimate of $131 million. The company’s proposal to build the new superstructure on temporary piers to be erected 15 feet downstream from the existing bridge and then slide the new steel structure into place atop the existing piers is being hailed as a miracle. That’s because the four other bidders on the project planned to shut down the existing bridge for up to a year during the project, forcing area commuters to cross the river aboard a ferry service. Prior to that, the local business community had been bracing for the worst. Students and workers who must cross the river each day for school or work dreaded what could have been a long wait. No one knew what to expect.
But Walsh teamed with two other companies to propose only 10 total days of bridge closure during the two-year-long project – five days in July 2011 and five days in fall 2012.
Crisis averted. But can they deliver on their promise? That is a question many in the community are wondering.
Now all eyes are on the river as the long-awaited construction process begins and area officials scramble to re-assess their plans to offset any negative economic impacts the project might create. A tentative construction scheduled was released in early December, providing answers to many questions about the project.
A public information meeting has been scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the new Milton Elementary School to present an overview and update of the bridge design-build project and all recent changes to the plan since Walsh Construction Co. was awarded the contract.
Preliminary work began in December as soil sampling took place on both sides of the river in preparation for the construction of temporary ramps to route traffic onto the existing bridge from the east. Meantime, trailers were brought and set up at Jaycee Park at the Madison riverfront to serve as the offices for Walsh Construction Co.
In December, four large trenches were dug on the east side of the existing bridge on the Milton side that was part of preliminary archaeology work that must precede construction.
In the initial stages of the project, traffic will be diverted onto the existing bridge via a ramp to be built at the Milton Boat Dock. The bridge will be closed for approximately five days in July 2011 to re-route traffic onto new ramps to be built on both sides of the river.
On the Milton side, a construction staging area is being prepared near the water pumping tower just west of the existing bridge. Walsh Construction Co. plans to build the new steel superstructure on barges that will be moored there.

John Carr

"I have every confidence that Walsh Construction is going to do what they say they’re going to do."
– John Carr, Wilbur Smith Associates

Beginning in July 2011, work will begin to strengthen and widen the tops of the existing piers to eventually hold the new superstructure. From July to November 2011, temporary piers will be erected in the river on the west, or downriver, side of the existing bridge. The new superstructure will then be mounted on the temporary piers and in May 2012 traffic will be diverted onto the downstream bridge while the existing bridge superstructure is demolished. Small explosives will likely be used to detach the existing superstructure from the piers in sections, allowing them to fall into the river. The sections of old bridge will be collected by crane and hauled to the scrapyard.
Then the downstream bridge will close for five days in fall 2012 as the bridge-sliding process occurs. It will move so slowly – 50 feet in five days – that the motion will not even be visible to the naked eye. When finished, the new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in September 2012, according to the terms of the contract.
Aaron Stover, project manager for Michael Baker Engineering, which is overseeing the construction by Walsh, said the temporary piers will be comprised of steel pipes and columns. “They won’t be real attractive but they will serve the purpose. They will be designed for safety to withstand weather and wind and traffic. We only call them temporary piers because of their duration in use; not because of structural integrity or ability to withstand traffic.”

Steve Beshear, Rick Rand

Photo by Don Ward

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear displays
a framed photo of the Milton-Madison
Bridge taken by Madison photographer
Theresa Strohl. The photo won a recent
Bridge Art Contest. State Rep. Rick
Rand (right) of Bedford, Ky.,
presented the photo to him following
the Groundbreaking Ceremony held
Nov. 30 at the Brown Gym in Madison.

John Carr, consultant with Wilber Smith Associates, which has overseen the project, said he was pleased with the community support he has encountered throughout the process and praised local officials for working together to make it happen.
“I’ve been involved in consulting for bridge building for 40 years and this is the fastest bridge project I’ve seen in all of those years,” he said “It’s also the most innovative approach to building a bridge.”
As for any public concerns about the reality of a 10-day closure or the use of the unique bridge-sliding approach, Carr said, “I have every confidence that Walsh Construction is going to do what they say they’re going to do.”
Meantime, web cameras will be positioned near the bridge on the Madison side to record the construction project from beginning to end. The images will be broadcast on the project’s official website: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.
The project is expected to attract architects and engineers from around the world to watch the bridge-sliding take place, Carr said. Both the demolition of the old bridge into the river and the bridge-sliding of the new superstructure are expected to attract hundreds of spectators from the region to witness the history making event.
“That will really be something to see in itself,” he said.
In fact, local officials are proposing yet another bridge kickoff event when the downstream bridge opens to traffic to provide excitement and convey a message that the temporary bridge is safe.
“This is a monumental event in our history, and we need to plan another event to mark the opening of the temporary bridge to help offset any concerns about safety,” said Jan Vethrus. “We need to come up with some type of publicity stunt.” Vethrus heads the bridge mitigation committee that has been meeting monthly to help manage the economic impacts to the two communities and oversee the use of marketing money to be provided by the project.

Project Facts

• Beginning Jan. 3, part of Vaughn Drive in Madison will be closed between Ferry Street and St. Michael's Avenue. Workers will be mobilizing equipment to be used for approaches and causeway construction. The closure will remain until the completion of the bridge project in late 2012. The official detour will be approximately seven blocks long and will use Ferry Street, State Road 56 (S.R. 56), Second Street and St. Michaels Avenue.
• The downstream piers will be designed to modern standards for wind, earthquake and barge impacts. Motorists will be diverted to the downstream bridge for a period of approximately four months. It has not yet been determined whether there will be truck weight limits on the downstream bridge.
• During construction, small controlled explosives may be used during the removal of the existing bridge truss from the concrete piers. The explosives will be used to cut the steel truss, allowing it to fall in the river in sections. The truss sections will be removed from the water with a crane and loaded onto a barge and hauled away to a scrapyard. The project team will not take any risks that would damage the new downstream truss or renovated existing piers.
• Archaeological work in Milton is ongoing where the eventual temporary ramp to the existing bridge will be constructed. Some minor pre-historic artifacts were found.
• Bridge construction will be captured on a live Internet webcam and broadcast on the project's website: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com. It has not yet been determined where the webcam will be erected. Time-lapse photos will be taken every 15 minutes and posted online.
• An arrangement is being finalized for the bridge project to pay for surveying a shorter race course for the Madison Regatta to be held over the next two years west of the bridge. Instead of a 2 1/2 mile course that takes the Unlimited hydroplanes under the bridge, the temporary course will likely be two miles and turn just short of the bridge.
• A public information meeting has been scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the new Milton Elementary School to present an overview and update of the bridge design-build project and all recent changes to the plan since Walsh Construction Co. was awarded the contract.

Source: Interviews with project team and INDOT officials

Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office has been getting dozens of calls from people asking one of two questions: When is the bridge closing? And will this temporary bridge be safe for crossing?
“We have a challenge ahead to educate the public that the bridge is not closed and that the temporary bridge will be safe,” she said. “We wish we were advertising something about it right now.”
Madison Main Street Program Executive Director Rhonda Deeg said, “There’s lots of confusion out there right now about the bridge, so we have our work cut out for us. We need to get started soon.”
At a Dec. 7 meeting at Clifty Inn, bridge consultants and representatives from various local agencies ironed out a revised economic mitigation agreement that offers little change to the original plan, including the provision of $405,000 in economic aid to the community over two years.
The plans keeps intact the following
• $205,000 in marketing money for the City of Madison.
• $40,000 in marketing money for the City of Milton
• $80,000 over two years for Madison Main Street Program to assist local businesses via promotions, seminars and other related activities.
• $80,000 over two years to hire a Historic Preservation Officer to work on grants and other assistance for improvements to the Madison Historic District.
One major change to the agreement is the cancellation of a 24-hour a day, two-vessel public ferry service that was projected to cost $5 million. Instead, a ferry boat may be provided for emergency vehicles only.
During that meeting it was confirmed by INDOT officials and bridge consultants that expenditure of the mitigation marketing money could begin immediately, since the contract allows for it to be spent eight months prior to any bridge closure. Any money spent will be reimbursed later up to the pre-approved funding levels for each community. Madison plans to use about $70,000 of its economic mitigation money to complete the marketing component of the city’s Branding Project that began a year ago, Lytle said. A separate Branding Committee is meeting monthly to guide those plans and coordinate marketing efforts with the re-opening of the new bridge in 2012, she said.

Bridge Groundbreaking Group

Photo by Don Ward

A large group of dignitaries took part in the Milton-Madison Bridge Groundbreaking Ceremony Nov. 30 by donning shovels and posing in front of a large banner that read: “Move That Bridge.” From left they are Indiana State Rep. Dave Cheatham; Milton Mayor Denny Jackson; Jack Couch, executive director of the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts; Michael Hancock, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary; INDOT Commissioner Michael Cline; Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand; Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear; Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels; U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Madison Mayor Tim Armstrong; Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens; and U.S. Rep. Baron Hill of Indiana.

The bridge mitigation committee met Dec. 17 to begin planning its marketing campaign. The City of Milton, meanwhile, has undergone a recent change in leadership and it is not yet determined who will oversee the town’s bridge spending activity, according to Mayor Denny Jackson. In December, he appointed Milton resident Debbie Crawford to represent Milton on the bridge mitigation committee. Lytle announced at the Dec. 7 meeting that her office has offered assistance to Milton in managing the spending of its marketing money. But Carr said that arrangement has not been accepted by Milton officials.

Back to the Milton-Madison Bridge Article Archive.



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