Milton-Madison Bridge Dedication

Let the party begin –
the new bridge is finally complete!

Governors, mayors, dignitaries
to mark occasion Oct. 28

(November 2014)
Read previous Don Ward columns!
Don Ward

After four years of construction, including two flooding delays caused by Mother Nature and a complete shutdown to traffic caused by a dislodged beam in March, the final step in building the new Milton-Madison Bridge takes place Oct, 28 – the formal dedication ceremony.

Photo by Don Ward

A community wide celebration
is planned for 2:30 p.m. Tuesday,
Oct. 28, to officially dedicate the
new Milton-Madison Bridge. Governors of both states, plus many local and regional dignitaries
are expected to attend.

Both Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are expected to take part in the ceremony, along with many local and regional officials and dignitaries and the general public. Madison Mayor Damon Welch and Mayor Denny Jackson of Milton, Ky., are scheduled to speak as well, along with Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand and Michael Cline, former commissioner of Indiana Department of Transportation. Jack Couch, executive director of Kentucky Regional Planning and Development Agency, will serve as master of ceremonies.
The event will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Vaughn Drive in Madison, Ind., just east of the bridge with a reception to follow on the grounds of nearby Riverboat Inn.

Photo by Don Ward

Walsh Construction Co. workers put the finishing touches on the new pedestrian walkway beneath the ramp on the Madison, Ind. side. The walkway is expected to open to the public at the end of October.

The ceremony will feature a ribbon-cutting and highlight the innovative solution used to replace the original bridge, which opened in 1929 and stood for 88 years. At nearly a half-mile long, the new bridge became the longest bridge in North America – and perhaps the world – to be slid laterally into place when it was moved 55 feet from temporary piers onto refurbished permanent piers this past April. The bridge was constructed by Walsh Construction Co., and the project garnered several engineering awards and much attention from the international engineering community.

Photo by Don Ward

The old bridge “rocker” at the Milton Boat Ramp displays the original builder’s plate from the 1929 bridge.

The two governors also will unveil the builder’s plates, which in late October were mounted on the upright beams entering both ends of the bridge.
The builder’s plate from the old bridge has been mounted to a steel “rocker” that has been positioned at the Milton Boat Ramp. It is one of two 13,000-pound rockers that were saved from the old bridge structure. The other rocker has been positioned on the Madison side of the Ohio River at Jaycee Park, just under the bridge. In addition to the new and old builders plates, plaques also have been mounted to each rocker to commemorate the construction of the new bridge. The rockers previously were used to support the 1929 bridge truss on Pier No. 3, nearest to the Kentucky side.

Beginning Oct. 28, the U.S. Postal Service is offering a special postmark to celebrate the bridge dedication. Also available will be this post card created from a painting by Milton, Ky., artist Vickie Eldridge. She also created the postmark.

Also saved from the bridge project was a 21x60-foot barge impact frame that was used to protect one of the piers from barges during construction of the new bridge. The barge impact frame, with the addition of concrete, has been repurposed as a boat dock at the Milton Boat Ramp. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet also has pledged $25,000 toward construction of a permanent restroom at the boat dock. The city is in charge of contracting for this project.
Work has been complete to the Milton Boat Ramp, including paving the dock. Work also is nearly complete to Madison’s Jaycee Park, including a new picnic shelter, new playground equipment, new volleyball courts and the sowing of new grass. Once the Walsh Construction trailer is gone, the basketball court will be rebuilt on that site, along with a second picnic shelter.
Paving of Vaughn Drive and grading of the riverbank on the Madison side also is complete.
For the past couple of months, finishing touches have been made to the bridge, and the pedestrian walkway has been built along the downriver, west side of the truss. Walsh Construction expects to open the walkway to the public at the end of October, officials said.

Photos by Don Ward

Workers (above) apply the
finishing coat of paint to the beams. The new builder’s plate has been mounted and will be unveiled
Oct. 28 just prior to the ceremony.

Meantime, to help celebrate the bridge dedication, the U.S. Postal Service has created a one-of-a-kind postmark, whose image was created by Milton artist Vickie Eldridge. The special postmark will be available beginning at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at the Milton Post Office, 21 High St. Mail order requests for the special cancellation will be available for 30 days. Customers should allow at least a 2x4-inch space in the stamp area for the postmark and have postage applied to cards or letters before mailing them — inside another envelope — to the post office. 

In addition to the special cancellation, the post office will be selling a limited number of postcards featuring the postmark and a painting of the old Milton-Madison Bridge. The painting was done by Eldridge as well. Eldridge owns Apple Tree Studio in Bedford, Ky., and her husband, Dennis, is a rural relief carrier at the Bedford Post Office. Cost of the postcard is $1, which includes one of the recently released Hudson River Forever stamps.
“We are so excited about the opening of the new bridge,” said Milton Postmaster Cecilia Oak. “The original bridge had been such an integral part of this community. We think this special postmark is a great way to mark the occasion.”

Madison, meantime, celebrated by holding a “Bridge Slide Party” in July 27, 2013, at Bicentennial Park.

• 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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