Motorists will soon be diverted onto the newly constructed Milton-Madison Bridge via newly built ramps being erected on both side of the Ohio River, if all goes according to plan. Walsh Construction Co. officials are anticipating the change of route to take place sometime in mid-February, though the schedule is subject to change.
Initially, the switch over to the new ramps and new bridge had been tentatively scheduled to take place in December. But flooding delays that occurred last spring has pushed back the work schedule. Now completion of the new bridge and refurbishing of the piers, demolition of the 83-year-old existing bridge, and the much-anticipated bridge sliding of the new truss are expected to conclude by late spring. Thats when traffic will be allowed to cross the new bridge in its permanent position atop rehabilitated piers.
Milton-Madison Bridge Construction Timeline
February 2010: TIGER Grant ($20 million) funding announced to build bridge.
September 2010: Contractor announced (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 bridge closures, this one to attach temporary piers.
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.
February 2013: Projected date to divert traffic onto new bridge atop temporary piers while demolition of existing bridge occurs.
Late spring 2013: Projected date of second five-day closure to slide new bridge onto rehabilitated existing piers and then re-open to traffic.
Meantime, paving of the new approach ramps on both side of the river began in earnest in late November. And a road widening project and new design of the approach ramp in Milton is nearly complete. The design includes new concrete curbs to better define the roadway and entry points, according to a member of the Project Team.
Project Team members, including Greg Prince, Media Relations Director for the Seymour District of the Indiana Department of Transportation, provided an update on the $103 million bridge replacement project to the RoundAbout during an interview on Nov. 28.
The Milton ramp area will see a new curb in front of the Milton Fast Lane B.P. to better direct traffic on and off Hwy. 421 near the bridge entrance. A pedestrian crosswalk will be painted across Coopers Bottom Road. There will be no changes to the Swifty Gas Station side of the road, a team member said.
We have done some things to more safely move traffic and pedestrians through that area, and to help with a drainage problem that existed, he said.
The changes will allow the stop sign at the end of Coopers Bottom Rd. to be moved closer to the intersection of Hwy. 421.
Meantime, workers are installing beams on the bridge road deck in preparation for paving the roadway soon. They also are nearly done constructing the ramps all the way up to the trusses, two sections of which were built and then strand-jack lifted into place in two separate lifts held in June and September.
Once the ramps are connected to the new bridge in its temporary position, about 15 feet downstream from the old bridge, a dogleg roadway will be installed to allow motorists to access the new bridge deck. Traffic will begin flowing in the original location of the access ramps but will dogleg over to the new bridge truss while it remains in its temporary position. This will enable workers to begin dismantling and demolishing the old bridge truss.
It has not yet been determined whether small explosives will be needed to break the truss free from the piers. Once free and dropped into the river, a salvage contractor has been hired to haul the old truss away for scrap, Project Team officials said. They will have only a 24-hour window to remove the old bridge truss and clear the main navigational channel for barge traffic.
Then final work will be done to the tops of the existing piers to install a tapered, wider form to hold the wider new bridge deck in place. The new bridge deck is 40 feet wide, twice as wide as the previous 20-foot deck. The road will be two lanes, with wide shoulders on each side. The one pier standing on land on the Indiana side already has the wider pier cap completed.
The pedestrian walkway, meanwhile, will be attached on the downstream side of the new bridge much later, even after traffic has begun to flow on it, officials said. To access the riverfront on the Madison side as they exit the bridge, pedestrians will walk north, then south down a concrete ramp that is being attached to the west side of the northernmost retaining wall that has been built there. The ramp will then take pedestrians under the bridge truss itself alongside the front of the retaining wall, and back north and south again on the east side of the retaining wall as it gradually winds down to the riverbank, ending on the east side of the bridge at ground level. These ramps can be seen on the sides of the new retaining wall that was recently complete on the Madison side.
Photos by Don Ward
The view from Moffett Cemetery in Milton, Ky., shows the latest progress on the new Milton-Madison Bridge (at left), which is being constructed just 15 feet downriver from the existing bridge. Tentative plans are to divert traffic onto the new truss in mid-February while the old bridge is demolished and the new pier caps are installed. Then the new truss will be slid into place atop the refurbished piers in late spring 2013 to complete the $103 million project. Meantime, paving of the new access ramp is under way in Milton (below). The area has been redesigned for safety.
On the Milton side, pedestrians will arrive on the downstream side of the bridge and the path will lead to the intersection of Coopers Bottom Road and Hwy. 421 near Riverside Auto Sales.
No bridge closure time is expected to take place when traffic is diverted onto the new access ramps to the new bridge truss, officials said. The next closure approximately five days, will take place in late spring when the new truss is slid into place atop the refurbished piers.
Overall, we have been pleased with the work and the progress that Walsh Construction has made, and weather permitting, we do not expect any future delays in the schedule, Prince said. Its a very innovative approach and it has attracted a lot of attention throughout the engineering community. This is certainly a landmark project for Indiana. Our state is definitely a leader right now in transportation projects like this one.
Bridge Project Team officials say they have not had any discussions yet with Madison or Milton city officials regarding any plans they may have for the grand opening of the new bridge. But it is widely known that a party and official ribbon-cutting ceremony is being devised to mark the occasion.
Large crowds are also expected for the next two significant events the demolition of the existing bridge and the sliding into place of the new bridge truss.
The project already has been featured in engineering magazines and just last month was recognized with a 2012 Best of Whats New Award from Popular Science magazine for its innovative design and construction methods. The Best of Whats New Award is the magazines top honor, and each of the 100 winners chosen from among thousands of entrants is a revolution in its field.
The creative approach used in replacing this bridge continues to draw a lot of positive attention, said Kevin Hetrick, project manager for INDOT. Theres a lot of pride in this truly exceptional project on both sides of the river.
The Milton-Madison Bridge Project, a joint effort between INDOT and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, has received numerous awards. It was named one of the top 10 bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges Magazine and has received several state and national engineering awards for innovation.
These awards aside, local residents and commuters anxiously await the biggest reward the completion of the project and the benefit of a new, safe bridge to cross.
Don Ward is the editor, publisher and owner of RoundAbout. Call him at (812) 273-2259 or email: Don@RoundAbout.bz.