officials, business owners
skeptical of bridge plan
hope contractor can indeed
keep closure to 10 days
Helen E. McKinney
(November 2010) While many city and county
officials and area merchants in Madison, Ind., and Trimble and Carroll
counties agree that a 10-day bridge closure is more desirable than a
365-day closure, they still see many pros and cons to the project to
replace the 80-year-old Milton-Madison Bridge. None deny it will cause
less disruption, IF it actually takes only 10 days to complete.
Reaction has been mixed to the recently announced 10-day
closure as part of the project.
When most businesses and individuals were anticipating a 10-12 month
closure, It will change things drastically, said Carroll
County Judge-Executive Shorty Tomlinson. Its an interesting
project, and I really want to see it work.
Tomlinson is skeptical as to whether the project will really only take
10 days to repair the bridge that spans the Ohio River between Madison,
Ind., and Milton, Ky. He attended a planning session where he viewed
a video of another bridge the Walsh Construction Co. erected in Canada,
and said he hopes the Milton-Madison Bridge project goes through just
All of the months of planning that has gone into this project have been
worth it, said Tomlinson. He doesnt see it as a waste of time,
but rather a worthwhile endeavor. Theres no doubt the project
will have a major impact on all our industries. Weve needed
to conduct a marketing study and impact study for some time to enhance
what we already have.
An estimated 10,000 drivers cross the bridge daily. Tomlinson doesnt
think there will be a major shift in shoppers and employees in either
direction. A certain amount are going to shop with you, anyway,
Marni Todd, owner of The Floating Cow in Madison, thinks her customers
will keep coming. Most of my returning customers say it will not
affect them in coming to Madison, she said.
Todd said the bridge project is obviously very good for the community,
and a 10-day bridge closure will not interrupt traffic as much.
She gets a lot of feedback from customers about the project who say
it is not a deterrent to coming to town. They love coming here.
Todd concedes how a long-term bridge closure might be an inconvenience,
but if youre just coming to town for the day, its not so
much a bother, she said. If it affects your employment, thats
Tomlinson agreed that industries with heavy truck traffic would feel
more of an impact with a longer bridge closure. A shorter closure time
will save time and added expenses in the long run and less hassle for
those who have to cross the bridge to get to work, he said.
Todd has many visitors from the Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis
areas. She even had a couple from England stop by her shop recently.
She usually suggests they pick up a map from the tourism office and
enjoy a walk while in Madison. I send them to the riverfront,
Madison has a uniqueness to it that is appealing to visitors, Todd said.
From being a river town to the historical aspect, we have a beautiful
Main Street area. Its the whole atmosphere that attracts
people, she said, including the river, hills and scenery.
She said that almost every day, someone discovers Madison for
the first time. She doesnt think a bridge closure will put
an end to this, no matter how long the bridge will be closed for repairs.
Im happy that were getting more restaurants downtown,
said Todd. This brings people in to try them and to shop.
Hurley Adams, owner of The Fabric Shop in Madison, says he is not really
worried about a long term bridge closure, if it came to that, because
customers are going to find me. I have what you cant find
His specialty fabric shop has been located in Madison for more than
21 years, and most of his customers make quilts, clothing and other
items that they use often. Theyre not just going to run
out to the store and get these things. Theyre going to make them,
As long as the bridge closure is announced ahead of time, that
is the big key, he said. My customers in Kentucky can make
a list and will know what they need to get ahead of time. With
a list planned out, they may even turn their trip into a day-long excursion,
taking a long ride up the river and combining several stops into one
visit to the area, he said.
Visitors prefer Madison because its not like other towns that
have big crowds of people or bad traffic, and you can walk to where
youre going, said Hurley.
Patty Jackson, manager of Riverside Produce located by the bridge in
Milton, Ky., said that a shorter bridge closure time naturally
will make a big difference. When the project was expected to take
a full year, we had no idea how we would be impacted.
The business has been in the same location since 1991, when it expanded
from its site across the road. Ten days we can handle pretty well,
said Jackson, but its hard to believe. We can only go by
what the engineers say and hope it happens that way.
Troy Burkhardt, co-owner along with Steve Buchanan of Milton Fast Lane
BP gas station by the bridge, said a 10-day closure will be a tremendous
help to all of us on this side of the river. But he was quick
to add, Ill believe it when I see it.
While many are skeptical of such a fast construction, it would
be a huge gain for us, said Burkhardt. He rationalizes that Walsh
Construction Co. wouldnt have put out the bid unless they thought
they could get it done, but it seems impossible.
Burkhardt hopes to make income off of the bridge workers. He bought
the business in April and opened on June 26, but had he known about
the bridge closure when he purchased the business, he probably wouldnt
have bought it, even though its in a great location,
Burkhardt knew the potential for the business, being the only gas station
in Milton. He formerly owned Burkhardts Discount Tobacco.
I dont think we have a lot of information on the details
yet, of the bridge project, he said. Like other business owners,
hell have to wait it out and see.
It will be exciting to watch, said Jackson. This may
bring in customers, instead of deterring them, she said.
We all want to see the area continue to grow, and even see the
whole region grow, said Tomlinson. Were all in it
He summed it up by saying, We all know the project needs to be
done, and Im grateful for it. Something is actually going to be
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