Bridge Builders

Milton-Madison Bridge
construction in full swing

Despite flood delay,
workers aim to finish project on time

By Don Ward

July 2011 Edition Cover

July 2011
Edition Cover

(July 2011) – After nearly two months of spring flooding delays, Walsh Construction is finally making progress on building the new $103 million Milton-Madison Bridge, spanning the Ohio River between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. Walsh’s Project Manager Charlie Gannon oversees the work of more than 100 employees and subcontractors. That number is expected to grow as the project continues. Gannon led a media tour of the project June 23 of the site on both sides of the river.
“This project is not only unique in its approach but also its scope, and it is attracting a lot of attention in the engineering community,” said Gannon, 58, a native of Anderson, Ind. The project also has fascinated the general public, especially those who live and work in the region and drive across the bridge each day.
With the Madison Regatta coming this month, to be followed by two more riverfront festivals later this summer, Gannon said, “We are doing everything we can to keep the project on schedule and prevent the work from interfering with people’s lives here in the area. “
For instance, work will be halted July 1-4 during the Madison Regatta weekend and resume after the Fourth of July.
The project began in earnest in January, just a few months after Laporte, Ind.-based Walsh Construction was awarded the construction contract for the ambitious effort. But weeks of flooding in April and May set the project back six weeks. The company was recently granted an extra 60 days to complete the project, but Gannon says his company hopes to make up for lost time by working longer days and weekends to try and make the September 2012 targeted completion date.

Milton-Madison Bridge Project Logo

Bridge Project

1. Existing bridge pier strengthening: January - September 2011.
2. Temporary approach ramps built on Vaughn Drive in Madison and KY Hwy. 36 in Milton: Summer 2011.
3. Bridge closes for five days while traffic is shifted onto temporary ramps: Fall 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.

Other Project Facts
• Workers are mobilizing equipment on Vaughn Drive in Madison and near the Milton, Ky., Boat Ramp to be used for approaches and causeway construction. The closure of Vaughn Drive 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 will 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.
• Bridge construction is being captured on a live Internet webcam and broadcast on the project's website: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com. Time-lapse photos are taken every 15 minutes and posted online.

Source: Interviews with project team and INDOT officials\

As a result flooding, the first of two previously announced five-day bridge closures has been delayed from July until sometime this fall. The closure is necessary to reroute traffic onto the existing bridge using two yet-to-be-built temporary ramps while the new bridge is being built just a few feet immediately downriver from it. Construction on the temporary ramps will take place in July, Gannon said.
The second bridge closure will take place near the end of the project when the newly constructed bridge will be slid onto the strengthened existing piers.
Gannon emphasized that the closure would be scheduled around the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art in late September, to avoid causing problems for the city’s other major festival.
So far the work has concentrated on building the “causeway,” or river access ramp, in Madison and “tressel” loading dock in Milton, plus a storage barn in Milton to receive and distribute construction materials. Work is also under way to construct “cofferdams” around the existing concrete piers to conduct extensive pier strengthening to support the new bridge. A cofferdam is a temporary enclosure built within a body of water and constructed to allow the enclosed area to be pumped out, creating a dry work environment for the work to proceed.
Work also is beginning to take shape to build temporary access ramps to the existing bridge on both sides of the river to eventually re-route traffic onto it while the new bridge and new ramps are being built.
The causeway on the Madison side allows access to the river to deliver via barges concrete and steel materials to workers who are building the cofferdams out in the river. When the time comes, concrete will be delivered on several rotating barges, each carrying four large buckets that can hold up to four yards of concrete per trip.
Soon the 130-foot tressel, or dock, on the Milton side will be expanded into a T-shape so the 700-foot, steel truss sections of the new bridge can be pre-assembled aboard six barges to be moored there. The bridge trusses will be painted in the shop and then touched up after they are installed and connected. When finished, the two longest spans of the truss will be floated out into the river and hoisted into place atop temporary steel piers to be installed along the west side of the existing bridge. The other spans will be assembled right onto the temporary piers on each side of the bridge nearer the shorelines. Once complete, traffic will be routed onto the new bridge while the old bridge is dismantled using small explosives. Then, near the end of the two-year project, the new bridge – including the deck, lights and rails – will be slid over a matter of hours from the temporary support structures onto the newly strengthened concrete piers that now hold the existing bridge. Traffic will open on the new bridge and the temporary steel piers will be removed. The pedestrian walkway will be installed much later to the west side of the new bridge.

Pier graphic
Pier graphic

The new bridge will have a five-foot less vertical clearance than the existing one. It will feature a 40-foot deck containing two 12-foot lanes with eight-foot shoulders and a five-foot pedestrian walkway. The current bridge is only 20 feet wide, with two 10-foot lanes and no shoulder or walkway.
“The temporary bridge piers will be constructed to the same specifications as if it were new construction and were going to stay there for years to come,” Gannon said. “They are only temporary in that they will be removed once the new bridge is built and slid over onto the reinforced, concrete piers.”
He emphasized that the temporary bridge piers, which essentially will be vertical steel structures driven into the bed of the river, will be able to withstand weather and even barge impact.
The new bridge truss will be slightly longer than the existing one, and one concrete pier nearest to the Indiana side will be completely removed.
The first cofferdam is already in place around Pier 2 on the Kentucky side and workers are busy pumping out water. Meantime, concrete reinforcement work is under way around Pier 1, which sits on land in Milton.
“To build the cofferdam in the river, it involves driving steel sheet piles into the river bottom to form an air-tight seal, and then pumping out the water to let workers get down to the bottom of the caissons to do the pier strengthening,” explained Aaron Stover, the project manager for Michael Baker Jr. Inc., an engineering firm hired to conduct design review and site inspection as the project moves forward.
The piers are being cleaned from years of debris. Holes are being drilled as deep as 70 feet into the bedrock to pour the bonding material to further strengthen the piers. It takes up to two days to drill one hole that deep, Gannon said.

New Bridge Rendering

Rendering provided

The new bridge will feature a
40-foot deck containing two 12-foot
lanes with eight-foot shoulders and a
five-foot pedestrian walkway. It will
look much like the old bridge, which is
only 20 feet wide, with two 10-foot
lanes and no shoulder or walkway.

Thousands of reinforcement bars, or rebar, are being installed into the concrete stems and caissons to strengthen them since the new bridge will be twice as wide and also feature a walkway on the southern side, when complete. The rebar is being added, both horizontally and vertically into the existing piers. A concrete “jacket” is being poured around the base of the piers, adding to their strength. This concrete jacket is being poured as thick as six feet in some places.
In addition to pier strengthening, the top 15 feet of the existing piers will be removed and wider pier caps will be installed to support the wider bridge deck. These caps will have a tapered design that will flare out at the top instead of curve in, like the current piers (See graphics, Page 22).

Pumping Water

Photos by Don Ward

Water is being pumped out of the
cofferdam (above) surrounding Pier 2
near the Kentucky side, while welders
prepare a steel structure on
the Milton riverfront.

The temporary approach ramps will connect on the east side of the existing bridge on both sides of the river. The Madison approach will be built using dirt and steel girders, starting along Vaughn Drive from Ferry Street and up and onto the bridge. It will have four inches of asphalt on the surface of the two 12-foot lanes.
Traffic will approach the bridge from Hwy. 56, head down Ferry Street to the river, then turn onto the temporary ramp and up onto the bridge. On the Milton side, traffic will approach the bridge from Hwy. 36, turn into the Milton boat ramp area and make two 90-degree turns to approach the bridge.
“We’ll build everything right before we shut down traffic for the first five-day closure to attach the temporary approach spans,” Gannon said.
The current 15-ton weight limit that was placed on the existing bridge in 2009 will be strictly enforced during this time, since semi-trucks will be unable to negotiate the 90-degree turns on the Milton side, said Andy Barber, the project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. He said enforcement will be stepped up by the state police agencies in both states. There will also be a 35-foot length restriction on vehicles and the speed limit, now at 35 mph, will be reduced to 20 mph, Barber said.

Charlie Gannon

Photos by Don Ward

Walsh Construction
Project Manager Charlie Gannon explains the
project details to
reporters during a June
23 media tour.

During the project, a group of Purdue University students, led by professor Robert J. Connor, are studying the stress of the existing bridge using gauges and wires to monitor it. This “fracture behavior” study is expected to provide valuable information for future bridge builders and “allow us to learn how much additional load the bridge can handle before it would fracture and fall,” Stover said. “This is a great opportunity for the old bridge to teach us something about the load stress and fracture critical nature of the steel. It is very rare to have a bridge like this to study, and this is the perfect candidate.”
Stover said a newer, stronger steel material is being used in the construction of the new Milton-Madison Bridge that is designed to be more fracture resistant.
Replacing the 80-year-old structure has been a long-awaited event in the lives of residents and commuters who live and work here. Bridge inspectors two years ago declared the Milton-Madison Bridge structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, thus prompting the 15-ton weight limit. It was given less than 10 years of remaining life.
The unique “Design-Build” approach being used to replace the bridge allows the contractor and the design team to make changes along the way, if necessary. Burgess & Niple of Columbus, Ohio, is the lead designer of the steel trusses, while Buckland & Taylor Ltd. of Seattle is also a design team partner on the project.

Purdue Students

Photo by Don Ward

Purdue University students
attach wires to the existing bridge
structure to measure the load
stress from the traffic above.

Walsh’s bid to do the job was not only the lowest but also the only one that proposed closing the existing bridge for only 10 total days during construction. The other bidders planned to shut down the bridge for a year.
“This company is not afraid of big projects and taking risks, and I think this project demonstrates that,” Gannon said his employer, Walsh. “To try and replace a bridge like this in the short amount of time we plan to do it and in the way we plan to do it, with only 10 total days of closure requires a company to be smart and innovated and determined – and not be afraid of it.”
The companies teamed up to submit a unique bridge-sliding concept that is considered to be the longest truss slide ever undertaken in the United States.
The transportation departments from both Kentucky and Indiana teamed up to coordinate the project. Kentucky technically owns the river and bridge, but the Indiana Department of Transportation is taking the lead on the construction. A federal stimulus grant totaling $20 million was provided to help pay for project, with the two states splitting the balance.

• To learn more about the project or view the live web cam, visit: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

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