The wait is over
Milton-Madison Bridge Slide
set for April 9
Slide to be complete in 12 hours;
bridge to open to traffic a week later
(April 8, 2014) – Finally, the much-anticipated Milton-Madison Bridge slide is about to take place.
Walsh Construction Project Manager Charlie Gannon said Tuesday the Milton-Madison Bridge slide will take place in six steps on Wednesday, April 9:
1. At daybreak, workers will conduct the “breakout,” which will be the first initial tug on the truss to break it free from its current position atop the temporary piers. It will move about three inches “to make sure it is able to move freely.”
2. The hydraulic jacks will then pull the truss about 25 feet and stop for inspections to be made.
3. The jacks will then pull the truss about 20 feet and stop for inspections. At this point, some welding of the truss girders to the first bearing plate on the concrete pier cap itself will be done.
3. The jacks will then pull the truss about five more feet.
4. The jacks will then pull the truss about one foot, to within a half inch of the final resting place. Workers will inspect the position and jacket assemblies.
5. The jacks will then pull the truss the final half inch.
The sliding of the new 2,428-foot-long bridge truss into its permanent position atop the refurbished and strengthened original piers is set to begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday. It will take Walsh Construction and VSL workers 12 hours to complete, Walsh Project Manager Charlie Gannon said during an afternoon press conference held Tuesday at Riverboat Inn in Madison, Ind. Walsh is teaming with Burgess & Niple Engineers of Columbus, Ohio, and Buckland and Taylor Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C., on the project. Another company, VSL, a worldwide leader in construction engineering, is managing the strand-jack slide process of the truss. During the slide, the Ohio River will be closed to boat and barge traffic, including the Rockin' Thunder Jet Boat Ride ferry service that has been carrying passengers back and forth across the river since March 31. Ferry boat and barge traffic is expected to resume on Thursday.
“After the slide begins, the Coast Guard will decide if the river should remain closed on Wednesday or open it to traffic. We will be operating from the bridge deck, not from our barges in the river,” Gannon said.
Bridge Project Timeline
June 2008: Project kickoff
February 2010: TIGER Grant ($20 million) federal funding announced to build bridge.
September 2010: Contract awarded to Walsh Construction.
Nov. 30, 2010: Official groundbreaking ceremony held at the Brown Gym in Madison
Dec. 1, 2010: Construction begins.
April 25-29, 2012: First of two planned five-day closures, this one to demolish old approaches and attach temporary approaches existing bridge.
March 14, 2012: Weight limit on existing bridge reduced from 15 tons to 3 tons due to deterioration, with 24-hour police enforcement.
June 25, 2012: First bridge span lifted into place atop temporary piers.
Sept. 10, 2012: Second bridge span lifted into place atop temporary piers.
December 2012: New bridge truss complete.
June 2013: Traffic switches to new bridge truss on temporary piers.
September 2013: Demolition of old bridge complete.
December 2013: Completion of pier cap widening.
March 11, 2014: Unexpected indefinite closure of bridge to traffic due to a dislodged steel bearing on the new truss.
March 13, 2014: First 100-foot section of new bridge on Milton side slid into place.
April 9, 2014: New 2,428-foot bridge truss slid into place over 12-hour period.
April 16, 2014: Projected re-opening of new Milton-Madison Bridge to traffic.
June 2014: Projected completion of project.
Source: Milton-Madison Bridge Project Team
The engineering feat to slide the 30-million-pound bridge truss 55 feet laterally from its temporary piers onto the permanent ones is considered to be the longest such bridge slide ever conducted in North America.
The task will involve eight hydraulic jacks and dozens of steel strands to pull the half-mile-long bridge truss into place. Polished steel sliding plates have been secured atop the refurbished piers to accommodate the feat. The steel strands and jacks will be controlled by a combination of lasers and computers to provide an accurate and even slide across the length of the truss, Gannon explained. There will be seven Walsh Construction workers positioned on each of the five piers during the slide.
Bearings were attached to the bottom of the new bridge truss during the construction process that will serve as the friction points. Industrial grease has been used to lubricate the sliding plates and grease the skids. Through a series of grabs and pulls, the jacks will pull the truss about 20 inches at a time, up to 10 feet per hour. A 100-foot section of the Milton-Madison Bridge was successfully slid into place on the Milton side on March 13.
“You won’t be able to see the truss move, it will be so slow,” Gannon said.
The new bridge will be supported by five piers, three in the river and two on land on each side of the river. There will be two hydraulic jacks operating on each of the three river piers, and one jack on each of the two land-based piers. Each jack on the river piers will use 33 strands in the process, while the two jacks on the land-based piers will use 22 strands each. Each steel strand is comprised of seven wires twisted together to create a 5/8th inch cable.
Once the slide is complete, Walsh Construction will need another week to finish all the connections and expansion joints, add the sidewalks, handrails and guard rails, and strip the pavement. It is now hoped the new bridge will be open to unrestricted traffic by April 16 or April 17, Gannon said. “We will be working 24 hours a day to finish the connections.”
Photo by Don Ward
From left, Charlie Gannon, Walsh Construction Project Manager, Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 5, and Will Wingfield, media relations manager for Indiana Department of Transportation, on April 8 take part in a press conference to announce the Milton-Madison Bridge Slide for April 9. The press conference was held at Riverboat Inn in Madison, Ind.
“When you consider that the other bids on the project would have closed the bridge for a maximum of one year, this recent delay has been a much better option,” said Will Wingfield, media relations director for INDOT. “High water and heavy rain has been a challenge throughout the project, but now that we’re working above the water level, it should not longer be a problem.”
The anticipated two-year Bridge Replacement Project with a maximum 10-day closure window is now estimated to be complete in late June, representing a 3 1/2-year-long time frame. The 10-day closure is now estimated to reach 39 days, including 29 extra days caused by the unexpected bearing dislodging under the truss that occurred March 12, rain and flooding in 2011 and recent additional bad weather. Each of the 29 additional closure days is costing Walsh $25,000 per day, to be deducted from the estimated $104 million contract.
Photo by Don Ward
Walsh Construction Project Manager Charlie Gannon explains how the strand-jack process will work to slide the 2,428-foot, 30 million pound bridge truss 55 feet laterally into its permanent resting place.
“During the first 14 months of construction, we lost about 250 work days because of rain and flooding in 2011. Some of those days were given back to us, but not all of them,” Gannon said. “That pushed us into winter, and it is very challenging to try and pour concrete in the winter. So over the past three years, we’ve had some big challenges.”
The bearing dislodgement incident is still being investigated by Walsh and the oversight team of Michael Baker Jr. Engineering, Wingfield said. “We’ve done our due diligence (regarding the incident). Even with the investigation ongoing, we felt comfortable to proceed with the slide and get the project back on schedule.”
The bridge slide had been scheduled to take place Sunday, April 6, but with heavy rain the preceding week and rain again on Monday and Tuesday, Walsh opted to delay the slide yet again, but only until Wednesday, Gannon said.
Photo by Don Ward
A group of riders from Madison,
Ind., arrives at the Milton Boat
Ramp on April 1 aboard the Rockin' Thunder Jet Boat, which is providing the free passenger service during
the recent bridge closure.
The new bridge replaces the 82-year-old span between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. The $104 million project began in late 2010 and is now expected to be complete in June, Gannon said. It is a joint effort between Kentucky Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of Transportation. The project received a $20 million federal stimulus grant to get started, with both states sharing the remaining costs.
• Time-lapse video of the slide will be available at the project official website: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.
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