reveal facts on need for bridge
Indiana are now working together
to replace the aging structure
(June 2006) Legislators, business owners,
residents and daily commuters are not the only ones concerned about
the aging Ohio River Bridge connecting Milton, Ky. and Madison, Ind.
by Konnie McCollum
Carla Goins (far right) worked on the project with Trimble County
Middle School students (from left) Brian Hemmer, Kassi Green,
Taylor Noblin and Casi Hoskins.
A group of Trimble County Middle School students recently
used the subject as the focus of a unique competition. Their research
was later organized into a Powerpoint presentation that impressed the
Madison City Council when presented at an April 25 meeting.
Some say the groups findings could even help in the advocacy of
building a new bridge within the next decade.
Carla Goins, faculty advisor for gifted students at Trimble County Middle
School, recently discovered a national competition she thought would
be perfect for a group of her students. The competition, called e-Cybermission,
is an Internet-based science, math and technology competition sponsored
by the U.S. Army.
In the competition, students in sixth-eighth grades choose a real problem
in the community, form a hypothesis about the problem and then offer
a serious solution for it. The competition encourages students to explore
how math, science and technology work in the real world. Teams compete
for regional and national prizes.
Goins put together a group of four students who have shown exceptional
skills in the areas of math, science and technology: seventh-graders
Kassi Green, 13; Casi Hoskins, 13; Brian Hemmer, 13, and sixth-grader
Taylor Noblin, 11. These students devoted many hours a week after school
and even on weekends from last October through February 2006 to plan
and research their project.
The students said that choice was not so difficult because the safety
of the bridge has long been a concern for everyone in the communities
who rely on it.
The team spent countless hours looking through various records, searching
the Internet, researching local newspapers and sifting through official
documents to find information about the history and safety management
of the bridge.
They even took a field trip to Frankfort, Ky., to search through Kentucky
Transportation Cabinet records for maintenance and safety inspection
information. Goins said that the Kentucky Director of Records Maintenance,
Anne Stansel, was extremely helpful with the teams open records
Each student took turns during some weekends to videotape the traffic
crossing the bridge at various times of the day. The students
parents were just great about helping out with the project, Goins
Hemmer worked on photographing points on the bridge to add emphasis
to their results.
The students also interviewed many local community leaders and politicians
about the bridge. The local officials were really helpful and
were concerned about the bridge and its safety, but the higher-ups didnt
care as much, Hoskins said.
Green added, Many of the politicians and leaders didnt think
we were seriously doing anything important until we filed the open records
Apparently, at that point, leaders began paying a bit more attention
and being more helpful.
by Don Ward
shows the Ohio River bridge
between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.,
is obsolete and should be replaced.
After compiling the data, the group worked on a presentation
for the contest, but then they also decided to present their findings
to community leaders. The presentation surprised some of the Madison
City Council members, the students said. Green said that Madison Mayor
Al Huntington thanked them for bringing such an important issue to the
forefront of the political scene.
Because city officials took them so seriously, all of the students felt
proud of their achievements. Hoskins said that while it was stressful
to do all of the work, it was also fun and rewarding to have done something
The students were actually quite shocked with some of their findings.
Hemmers photos capture the gravity of the rust problem on the
bridge and missing rivets and loose bolts, and the research on the bridge
maintenance and safety showed serious concerns.
Green cited a sufficiency rating inspection, which measures safety and
traffic counts. In it, the bridge scored a 31.6 out of a possible 100
after the 1997 refurbishing; before that, the rating was far below that.
A rating of 50 or below on that inspection signifies extensive reworking
or replacing should be done.
The students final determination was that the bridge is obsolete
and needs to be replaced. Late or missing inspections and a lack of
proper maintenance were also concerns raised in the projects research.
We always think that the system is in place to make sure the bridge
is safe. We need to make sure that system works.
Although the students did not win the contest, they were happy with
their work. The group is considering re-entering their project next
year because they were not quite finished with their research at the
Recent political movements on both sides of the river have put the question
of replacing the bridge back into the spotlight. Transportation officials
in both states have agreed to work together to solve the issue. While
nothing specific or definite has been worked out, there are forces working
to put the bridge on lists in both Kentucky and Indiana for funding
to replace it.
On May 16, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with Indiana State Rep.
Billy Bright (R-North Vernon), visited Madison to talk with Huntington
about the bridge. Daniels office reported that state officials
hope to begin environmental studies of a replacement bridge sometime
in the fall. Meanwhile, both Huntington and Bright are working to get
the bridge put on the highway construction list.
In a later telephone interview conducted in late May, Bright said, The
new bridge is going to happen thanks to the Major Moves initiative.
The funding is there and the plans are in place.
Bright said planning and design is schedule to begin in 2007, construction
should begin by 2012 and the bridge is scheduled for completion by 2016.
He added, however, that those are tentative dates because there are
many concerns to deal with in these types of projects.
Kentucky State Rep. Rick Rand (D-Bedford) said, There is momentum
going towards replacing the bridge and we are working to keep it out
While there has been no solid announcement about any plans, Kentucky
has committed up to $3 million for a design firm to look into plans
possibly later this summer. The money is there, but nothing is
concrete, Rand said. We will certainly keep working towards
Read more on the history of the Ohio River
Bridge in Milton, Ky., at our online story archives. Visit: www.RoundAboutMadison.com
and click on Archived Stories then June 2001.
Back to June 2006 Articles.