Taking Shape

Dry weather puts
bridge work back on track

Milton street work to begin
in October along with truss, piers

(October 2012)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

For months during last year’s rain-plagued season, many people either complained or worried about the slow progress being made on construction of the Milton-Madison Bridge. But once the first of two long, steel trusses were lifted into place last June, those concerns turned to excitement. The 10-hour “lift” drew hundreds of people to the riverfront to watch the historic first section go up.
I guess seeing is believing.
Now that the second section of truss has been lifted into place, an engineering feat that took place in Sept. 10, work on the new bridge is in full swing, according to Kentucky and Indiana transportation officials. And while the recent drought may be been bad for farmers and lawns, it gave bridge workers many days of dry weather to catch up on any time that had been previously lost.


Photo courtesy of Walsh Construction

The old and new bridge (on the
right) stand side by side during the
construction. The old bridge will
eventually be demolished and the new
bridge will be slid into place atop the
refurbished existing concrete piers.

While the schedule is always subject to change, the construction team still plans to open the new bridge to traffic on temporary piers sometime in January 2013, officials said. At that time, the current weight restriction of three tons that was placed on the old bridge will increase to 15 tons for the new bridge on temporary piers. The 36 feet in length will remain in effect. The new bridge has been designed to support that load. Enforcement will be re-evaluated once the existing bridge is no longer in service.
Demolition of the old bridge is still scheduled from January to March, officials said. There are two piers being built south of Vaughn Drive in Madison. The one closest to the river with the large solid shaft is where the new truss section will land. North of that pier will be concrete I-beams like those seen on many overpass structures. The first pier in the river on the Indiana side will be removed during demolition.
“With the two center spans of the truss being lifted into place this summer, work has started on building the remaining spans,” said Andrea Clifford, Public Information officer with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s District 5 in Louisville. “These spans will be built outward from the lifted spans to the first pier on each bank of the river. Once the truss is completed, the next phase of work will be installation of the bridge deck.”

Pier 7 sidewalk brackets

Photo courtesy of Walsh Construction

The brackets being added to
Pier 7 will be used to used to
support the pedestrian sidewalk,
to be added next spring in the last
phase of the Milton-Madison Bridge
Project. The sidewalk will connect
to a new land sidewalk in Milton.

Walsh Construction used special hydraulic jacks and bundled strands of steel cable to lift the 2,067-ton, 727-foot-long, preassembled second span to a height of 90–95 feet onto temporary piers 4 and 5. Because the span lift took place in the main navigational channel, the river was closed to commercial traffic for about 24 hours. By comparison, the first truss that went up in June was 600 feet long.
Once the span reached its full height, a “sliding girder” was placed under the truss, supported by the temporary pier and a concrete pedestal on the existing piers. This massive beam will be used next spring when the completed 2,426-foot bridge slides from its temporary position onto the permanent piers, which are being rehabilitated and strengthened.
“The project team is pleased with the progress by Walsh Construction,” Clifford continued. “Their efforts combined with the dry weather this summer has certainly helped keep the project moving along. We look forward to the new bridge being placed in its permanent location next spring.”
In addition to the truss work, construction is moving forward at both ends on the ramps in Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. And on Oct. 1, transportation officials announced that in October and November they will rebuild the road leading to the bridge in Milton to make the approach safer and wider. Construction in the area of Hwy. 421 at Coopers Bottom is expected to improve traffic flow and drainage in the area.
There will be a new sidewalk to tie into the pedestrian way that will be attached to the west side of the new bridge in the final stages of construction next year.
The sidewalk will lead to a crosswalk at Coopers Bottom Road and run along the south side of Hwy. 421.

Pier Supports

Photo courtesy of Walsh Construction

This view looking north from
the end of old bridge shows
the new pier supports being
built on the Madison side.

Also, a new concrete curb will be added to help with drainage and to reduced accidents by creating entrance and exit points at businesses in Milton.
“During the project’s initial phase, Milton citizens let us know that changes at this intersection at the foot of the bridge were important to them,” said Dav Kessinger, project manager. “They asked us to consider changes to improve the flow of traffic, and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Traffic control measures, such as barrels and cones, will go up the first week of October in preparation for the coming work. During construction, drivers will be directed through Milton by flag personnel.
In other recent developments, work is expected to begin in early October on pier scour protection. Scour is caused by swiftly moving water past the piers and can cause erosion. Crews will be excavating existing sediment from the base of the piers, replacing it with large boulders, which will prevent future erosion.
Also, work continues to finish connecting spans 2 and 3 on temporary piers and erecting the king post – the tallest vertical member of the truss. With both span lifts complete, workers are “stick building” the remainder of the truss, starting with span 1 on the Milton side of the river. Crews will continue forming and pouring the piers on the Milton side as well as work on the abutment at High Street.
The Milton-Madison Bridge is a joint effort by the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The project has been named one of the top bridge projects in the country by “Roads & Bridges Magazine and has received numerous state and national engineering awards for innovation.
“With the beautiful fall weather approaching, it is hoped that the project can keep on the current schedule,” Clifford said.

• Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.

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