Mixed messages

Bridge closing to cause
some job losses, construction gains

Ferry service to help offset
adverse economic impacts

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(January 2010) – Approximately 517 jobs and $44 million in economic output throughout a three-county area could be lost in 2011 when the Milton-Madison Bridge is closed for a superstructure replacement, according to the results of a recent economic impact study. Those results are a medium scenario total impact that includes provisions of ferry services, which will actually help save 103-job losses and $9.7 million in economic output in Trimble County, Ky., Carroll County, Ky., and Jefferson County, Ind.

Bridge Pedway

Illustrations provided

Milton-Madison Bridge Project
officials have released design
illustrations showing a possible
pedway along the bridge. (Below)
A switchback on the Madison side
of the bridge could connect to the
existing sidewalk along the river.

Bridge Switchback

The impact analysis assessed the positive impact from construction expenditures on the new span and the adverse regional economic impact to businesses and industries during the construction phase of the project. It was conducted by economists for consultants on the Milton-Madison Bridge Project and used the IMPLAN economic impact model.
The analysis also concluded that construction expenditures on the project are expected to result in an estimated cumulative total positive impact with the creation of 1,382 construction jobs and a corresponding $152.5 million in economic impact.
“Accounting for expenditure-related impacts in construction year 2010 and construction year 2012 as well, the economic impact to the tri-county region across the cumulative analysis horizon is unequivocally net positive, despite the expected adverse impact to business-industries in construction year 2011,” the analysis summarized.
As part of economic impact analysis, area businesses were surveyed about the impact a bridge closure would have on them. According to the responses, 35 percent of customers come from the opposite side of the river. Business owners worry that 44 percent of those customers will stop crossing the river when the bridge shuts down.
The anecdotal information was used in an economic model to measure region-wide impacts. “According to the interviews, the anticipated business losses from the closure are temporary, with a gross majority of those jobs and output expected to return after the bridge is open,” the analysis stated.
“It’s not a one on one correlation; models are models, and they serve as a guide,” said John Carr, who heads the project for lead consulting firm Wilbur Smith Associates Inc. “We all know economists can be notoriously wrong, but we’ve used the best methods there are to come up with these results.”
The results of the study were discussed during a Dec. 10 meeting of the Section 106 mitigation process for the project in which the potential impact on historic resources, including any adverse economic impacts, and possible financial mediation were debated.
Under the National Historic Preservation Act’s Section 106 Consultation, local members of the community with historic or cultural resources can voice concerns about how the bridge project could affect them. All requests to be a consulting party for the Milton-Madison Bridge project were approved and allowed to participate.
At previous meetings, Section 106 consultants and project officials worked together on a list of potential adverse impacts and financial measures to offset those impacts. A draft of the Memorandum of Agreement, or MOA, was presented at the recent meeting. Once finalized, the MOA must be signed by all parties and will serve as a legally binding document, officials said.

Milton Pedway

Illustration provided

The graphic shows the proposed
pedway on the west side (top line)
of the Milton-Madison Bridge
as it enters Milton.

“We took the total laundry list, looked at it and put dollar figures on items,” said Carr. “We will go back to the officials in charge, who will make the final decision on what is included in the final MOA.”
The money for mitigation measures was included in the $131 budget for the project. “We have contingencies built into our estimates, said Carr. “The $131 million price tag is the upper limit of what we believe the project will cost.”
He said if the project comes in higher than that, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation officials have agreed to pay the costs. “Our preplanning gives us some leeway, but mitigation changes with circumstances,” he explained.
The ferry service, which project officials have estimated to cost $5.6 million, is an example of the project mitigation efforts. Free ferry services have been included as a way to offset the direct adverse economic impact closing the bridge will have on the surrounding communities.
“Without the addition of the ferry service, the economic impact to the region would be far worse,” said Kevin Hetrick, INDOT project manager. “This is a substantial investment by both states to offset the closure of a bridge that needs replacing.”
Plans are being developed to manage parking and traffic in both staging areas for the ferry. Enhancements to both sites include restroom facilities, sidewalks and resurfacing.
During operations, two ferries, operating simultaneously, would hold up to 24 cars each. Each crossing would take about 12 minutes, including loading and unloading. During peak hours, the ferries could carry 240 cars per hour, allowing for a total of about 4,800 vehicles per day to cross the river.
In August, bridge project officials announced they would apply for $95 million in federal stimulus money for a proposed superstructure replacement with minimal approaches. If the money is received, Indiana and Kentucky will split the remaining costs for the $131 million project.
Project officials will be notified in late January about whether they are going to get the federal money, and if approved, bids will be accepted starting in March, according to Carr. The bid will be awarded in May, with work to begin shortly thereafter.
A public hearing has been planned for 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the Milton Elementary School to discuss the Environmental Agreement and other bridge-related issues. Citizens will be given the opportunity to voice their concerns or add their input on the project.

• For more information, visit www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

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