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Construction is underway on the innovative Milton-Madison Bridge Project, a joint effort between the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to replace the deteriorating U.S. 421 bridge connecting Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. Through the use of creative design and construction methods, the new bridge is being built years ahead of schedule, millions under budget and with far less disruption to the communities than originally expected. The bridge remains open during construction with the exception of closures totaling 10 days – far less than the originally anticipated 365-day closure. (The first closure took place in April 2012. The second and final closure is expected in July 2013). When the new bridge opens to traffic in 2013, it will be the fastest-built modern-day bridge across the Ohio River. Construction activity began in January 2011 following the Nov. 30, 2010, groundbreaking by then Gov. Mitch Daniels, Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
When are the bridge closures?
The bridge remains open to traffic throughout construction for all but 10 days. The first bridge closure took place in April 2012. The second closure is expected in July 2013 while the new truss superstructure is “slid” onto the rehabbed piers. Following this closure, the new bridge will be open to traffic. Before the use of innovative design and construction methods, the bridge closure was originally expected to take 365 days.
How will people get around when it’s closed?
The bridge remains open to traffic throughout construction for all but 10 days. During the few days that the bridge is closed, drivers can detour to the nearest bridges, 26 miles upstream at the Markland Locks and Dam, or in Louisville, 46 miles downstream. A ferry service will provide transportation across the river for emergency responders during the closures.
When will the new bridge open to traffic?
The new bridge is expected to open to traffic in July 2013. Meanwhile the existing bridge remains open, with the exception of the one remaining closure just prior to the “slide.”
What is the cost of the project and how is it being funded?
The cost of the new bridge is approximately $103 million. Due to innovative design and construction methods, that amount is 20% less than originally expected. The project was awarded $20 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) federal stimulus funding. Indiana and Kentucky have identified state and federal funding for the remaining cost, which is being evenly split by both states.
Where are we in the construction process?
It currently appears as though there are two bridges sitting side by side. The existing bridge remains open and is being accessed via temporary ramps. Meanwhile, work is complete on the new truss which sits on temporary piers. Once the new concrete bridge road deck is poured in the spring of 2013, traffic will shift to new bridge in its temporary location. At that point, the old bridge truss will be removed and widening of the existing piers will continue. The bridge slide is currently expected to take place in July 2013.
Traffic will shift from the existing bridge to the new bridge on temporary piers in April 2013.
What are the unique design and construction methods being utilized by the project?
The Milton-Madison Bridge Project is being built using the “design-build” method, which saves time by overlapping the design and construction phases of the project. While the process moves at a faster pace, it does not compromise quality or safety; inspectors monitor every step of construction.
When the new bridge is complete, it will lie within the footprint of the existing bridge, thanks to creative design and construction methods called “superstructure replacement” and “truss sliding.” With superstructure replacement, the existing piers are reused after being widened and strengthened. Contractor Walsh Construction Company of LaPorte, Ind., teaming up with engineering firms Buckland & Taylor Ltd. and Burgess & Niple, will use truss sliding to replace the old superstructure. The new steel truss superstructure will be built on steel piers adjacent to the existing bridge. Then, using computer-controlled hydraulic jacks, the new superstructure will be pulled across steel beams into place on top of the renovated existing piers and the downstream piers will be removed.
Has a bridge “slide” been tried anywhere else before?
The Milton-Madison Bridge is believed to be the longest truss slide project undertaken in the U.S. Last year, engineers Buckland & Taylor Ltd. worked with another contractor to successfully complete the Old Capilano Bridge “slide” in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Time-lapse video of the 450-foot-long Old Capilano truss slide can be seen here. Another similar slide took place recently in Portland.
Why was a new bridge needed?
The Madison-Milton Bridge was built in 1929 and is too narrow for modern traffic. Inspectors label its condition as “poor,” with a remaining useful life span of less than 10 years. A 15-ton weight limit was imposed on the bridge in 2009. Each day, 11,000 vehicles travel the bridge, the only crossing on a 72-mile stretch of the Ohio River between Louisville, Ky., and Vevay, Ind.
How will the new bridge differ from the old?
In keeping with the historic character of Madison and Milton, the new steel truss bridge will look similar to the existing bridge. It will be grayish-blue in color. The current bridge is 3,181-feet-long and only 20-feet-wide, with two 10-foot lanes and no shoulder or sidewalk. The new bridge will be widened to 40 feet, with two 12-foot lanes, 8-foot shoulders and a 5-foot sidewalk on the downstream side of the truss.