Building the Bridge

Closure allows Walsh
to attach temporary approach ramps

Traffic will continue to use
existing bridge through 2012

By Don Ward

(May 2012) – Walsh Construction Co. officials, along with transportation officials in Kentucky and Indiana, re-opened the Milton-Madison Bridge at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, April 28, ahead of schedule, following work to demolish the old ramps and attach temporary ones on both sides of the Ohio River.
The planned five-day closure was the first of two such closures to be made during the two-year, $103 million project to replace the 83-year-old structure. During the closure, Walsh Construction Co. worked around the clock to complete the task in a timely fashion.

Bridge Demolition

Photo courtesy of Aaron Stover,
Michael Baker Jr. Engineering

Explosives were used April 25
to detach a section of the bridge.

Heavy equipment was used to demolish the ramps and explosives were used to sever steel girders and remove a short section of ramp on the Madison side. The event drew a large crowd of spectators to the riverfront on Wednesday, April 25, along with TV news crews from several Louisville stations.
The removal of the bridge approaches – including the concrete road deck and supporting steel structure – required the use of a heavy hydraulic demolition hammer and controlled explosives.
Work continued on the ramps throughout the week, including setting beams, bracing, timbers and concrete barrier railing. Load testing experiments were conducted by Purdue University students on a 150-foot approach span at the north end of the bridge.
Workers then paved the remaining ramp sections leading up onto the existing bridge platform. Signage was installed to direct traffic to the new approach locations on each side of the river.

Ramp Demolition

Photo courtesy of Debbie Crawford

Walsh Construction workers
demolish the approach ramp on
the Milton, Ky., side of the
Milton-Madison Bridge.

In Madison, traffic now approaches the bridge from Ferry Street and Vaughn Drive to a steel ramp rising up to the bridge platform. In Milton, traffic has been diverted to the Milton Boat Ramp where a temporary earthen and steel ramp was built.
Both approaches require a 90-degree turn and no large trucks will be allowed on to the bridge. The 3-ton weight limit will remain in place and the speed limit has been lowered from 35 mph to 25 mph. A 36-foot vehicle length restriction will be in place as well due to the turn radius of the temporary ramps.
The next major construction event will take place in June when workers lift the first of two steel bridge trusses onto temporary supports being installed just west of the existing bridge. Two trusses will be lifted into place using large hydraulic strand jacks. The rest of the new bridge truss will be assembled in air, as opposed to being constructed aboard the barges parked along the Milton riverfront.
Traffic will continue to use the existing bridge through December, when it will then be diverted onto the new bridge truss that is being constructed just downstream from the existing bridge.
Then the old bridge truss will be demolished to make way for the sliding into place of the new truss onto the existing, rehabilitated concrete piers.
The sliding is expected to take place in 2013 during the second planned five-day bridge closure. Once the new bridge is opened to traffic, there will be no weight restrictions.
The pedestrian walkway will be attached to the downstream side of the new bridge several weeks after the new bridge has re-opened to traffic, officials say.
The replacement of the narrow and deteriorating Milton-Madison Bridge originally entailed a year-long bridge closure. But due to innovative design and construction methods, the bridge remains open during construction for all but a total of 10 days. Once complete, the new wider bridge will lie within the existing footprint.
Using a method called “truss sliding,” the new 2,400-foot-long steel truss bridge will be built on temporary piers and slid into place on top of the existing piers which are being strengthened to meet modern standards. Construction began in early 2011 and is expected to be complete in 2013.
Named one of the Top 10 bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges Magazine, and the recipient of several state and national engineering awards, the Milton-Madison Bridge Project is a bi-state effort between INDOT and KYTC. For more information, visit www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

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