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Milton-Madison Bridge Project

Madison Riverfront project
plans tent viewing of bridge span lift

Public is invited to view event
in shaded comfort

By Jenny Eggenspiller
Contributing Writer

(June 2012) – Summer festivals have become commonplace in Madison, Ind., and people have grown accustomed to seeing big white tents on the riverfront. But the next time a tent goes up on Vaughn Drive, it likely won’t have a musician playing folk or blues music underneath it. Entry to this tent will not require a wristband and no admission fee will be charged.

Milton-Madison Bridge Project Logo

The next big tent to go up on Madison’s riverfront will be a complementary viewing tent hosted by the Madison Riverfront Development Committee. The committee is organizing the viewing tent as a place for spectators to view the lift of one of two Milton-Madison Bridge spans onto the temporary piers that have been constructed just downstream of the existing bridge. The first span to be lifted is approximately 600 feet long (the length of one and a half football fields) and weighs 1,600 pounds. The span lift is tentatively scheduled to take place on June 18, but that date is subject to change.
Riverfront Development Committee Chairman Jim Pruett said that the idea to organize a viewing area came about this spring when the old bridge approaches were destroyed in April. During that event, the old approaches were removed with explosives and construction crews then connected the temporary ramps to the existing bridge.
“There were a ton of people on the riverfront watching the demolition, and that made it pretty evident that we should be doing something to accommodate these spectators,” Pruett said. “We (the committee) thought it would be nice for dignitaries and people coming from out of town to have a place to view what’s happening with the project.”
The tent will not only be open for dignitaries and visitors, though. “We want to bring the whole town together during this really exciting time,” said committee member Marissa Austin.

Bridge Span

Photo by Don Ward

The first of two spans of the
Milton-Madison Bridge across the
Ohio River is scheduled to be
placed onto temporary piers just
downstream of the existing bridge.
The first span to be lifted is
approximately 600 feet long
and weighs 1,600 pounds.

Austin, who works as the Director of External Relations for the Rivers Institute at Hanover College, is chairing the tent event. She said planning for the event has been tricky, since the date for the lift to take place is still tentative. That’s because the event is dependent on so many factors, such as weather and river levels. “We’re moving ahead the date because that seems to be likely at this point, but if the date gets moved we will make the necessary accommodations,” said Austin.
Along with a shaded place to view the progress as the lift takes place, the tent will also offer light refreshments and will be staffed by members of the Riverfront Development Committee. “This is also an opportunity for us to promote the riverfront and what its become, as well as share our future plans for it”, Austin said.
Louann Waller, secretary for the Riverfront Development Committee, will be staffing the tent much of the day and will be offering the sale of bricks and benches to anyone wishing to purchase a piece of the riverfront development project. The tent is officially sponsored by the City of Madison, but the event is being funded through the Riverfront Development Committee.
“Outside sponsorships are welcomed if anyone would like to donate,” said Waller. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Marissa Austin at (812) 866-7290.
This will be the first of what will likely be a series of viewing events hosted by the Riverfront Development Committee. The group hopes to hold the viewing tent party again for the second bridge span lift, tentatively scheduled to take place in August. The committee is planning to hold some kind of viewing event for the bridge “slide” of the new span onto the refurbished, existing piers as well. This is projected to take place just before the new bridge opens to traffic sometime in 2013.

• For more information on the Madison Riverfront Development Committee and its activities, contact Louann Waller in Madison City Hall at (812) 265-8324 or visit: www.MadisonRiverfront.com.

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