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Building the Bridge

Walsh Construction plans
first bridge closure on April 25-29

Informational public meeting
on closure is set for March 22

By Don Ward
Editor

Milton-Madison Bridge Logo

(February 2012) – The first five-day closure of the Milton-Madison Bridge has been tentatively set for April 25-29, barring further construction delays due to poor weather, high river levels or other adverse conditions, officials say.
The closure is the first of two planned five-day closures on the $103 million project to replace the 82-year-old superstructure and reinforce the existing concrete piers. This first closure is required to allow workers to connect temporary approach ramps to the existing bridge from both sides of the Ohio River. A second five-day closure is planned at the end of the project when the newly built superstructure will be slid into place atop the existing piers.
During this first closure, the project contractor, Walsh Construction Co., will work around the clock to remove the existing bridge approaches and connect temporary ramps in Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) announced the dates of the first five-day, construction-related closure on Jan. 31.
“Shifting traffic to the temporary ramps is just the first in a series of steps we’re taking to ensure traffic keeps moving during construction,” said Kevin Hetrick, INDOT project manager. “When you consider that this community was initially facing a year-long bridge closure, five days – while still an inconvenience – is a lot more manageable.”
During the planned five-day closure, a ferry service will be provided for emergency medical services only. Drivers will detour to the Markland Locks and Dam Bridge, 26 miles upstream, or Louisville, 46 miles downstream.

River Debris

Photo by Don Ward

Flooding in January 2012
again delayed construction on
the new Milton-Madison Bridge
over the Ohio River. The recent
flooding followed the wettest year
on record in the area. Above,
debris piles up against the new
structure in Milton.

In order to explain closure-related traffic changes and emergency services provisions and provide a bridge construction update, the project team will conduct a public meeting on March 22 at The Brown Gym, 100 Broadway St., in Madison, from 6-8 p.m., with a presentation beginning at 7 p.m.
Construction began in early 2011 to replace the narrow and deteriorating Milton-Madison Bridge using innovative design and construction methods. A new 2,400-foot-long steel truss bridge will be built on temporary piers. Two long sections of the new bridge will be hoisted into place using special hydaulic jacks.
Traffic will eventually be diverted onto the new bridge while it is still being supported by the downstream temporary piers until the old bridge can be removed. Walsh Construction plans to use small explosives to remove the old superstructure from the piers. The old steel work will drop into the river and be picked up and hauled away for scrap.
Then the new bridge will be slid into place on top of the existing piers, which are being strengthened to meet modern standards. Once complete, the new wider bridge will lie within the footprint of the existing bridge. The bridge sliding and connection of the permanent approaches to the new bridge will take place during the second five-day closure, scheduled in 2013.

Bridge Pier

Photo by Don Ward

Walsh Construction Co.’s work to strengthen the existing concrete piers of the Milton-Madison Bridge have been hampered by flooding once again in January, filling the coffer dams around the base of the piers with water. It was the sixth flooding event in the past year. With the recent setbacks, the new bridge is now expected to open to traffic in early 2013.

The project has been hampered by heavy rain almost from the start. After a year of record-breaking rainfall and sustained high river levels last year, an adjusted project schedule indicates the new bridge will open to traffic in 2013. The final touches, such as the pedestrian walkway, will be added later, after the bridge has been opened to traffic. The bridge had originally been scheduled to open to traffic by September 2012.
“When river levels rise, the cofferdams flood, the current is swift and it’s simply not safe for our workers,” explained Andy Barber, KYTC project manager. “We built time into the schedule for weather issues, but when you see these kinds of rainfall extremes, obviously it’s not something we can control. So we’ll make adjustments and keep the project moving forward as quickly and safely as we can.”
The project schedule was impacted by five high-water events, delaying work on the project a total of 108 days in 2011. A sixth high water event took place in mid-January when the river reached flood stage once again due to heavy rain.
“The good news is that the schedule adjustment does not impact the length of the planned bridge closures; the two closures will still last just five days each,” explained Hetrick. “We’re hoping no more weather records will be broken in 2012.”
Named one of the Top 10 bridge projects in the country by “Roads & Bridges Magazine,” and the recipient of several state and national engineering awards, the Milton-Madison Bridge Project is a bi-state effort between INDOT and KYTC.

• For more information, visit: www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com or follow the project on Twitter @MMBridgeProject.

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