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Bridge ramps to open in spring

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By Dave Taylor

Area motorists who may be viewing with trepidation the ongoing construction of temporary ramps on each end of the Milton-Madison bridge can set their fears aside as every aspect of safety is being given consideration in the design and manufacture of the structures, according to Doug VanSlambrook, Assistant Project Manager, Walsh Construction Company.

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VanSlambrook and Aaron Stover, Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., gave local and regional media representatives a tour of the bridge construction sites on Friday. Walsh Construction is the general contractor for the project to replace the existing bridge, completed in 1929, with a modern, wider span by the end of next year. Michael Baker, Jr., Inc., is the company in charge of bridge inspection during the project.

Steel framework has been erected on pilings driven deep into the ground on the Madison side of the river. Large wood beams—called frame mats—have been placed atop these huge beams. Workmen currently are bolting the timbers to the steel framework, VanSlambrook said.

“These timber frame mats will get an overlay of asphalt as a roadway surface,” VanSlambrook said. “This structure will be in position and in service until the new bridge is ready to be put over into its final position on the permanent piers. The first closure will be to tie the temporary access ramps into the existing structure.”

To prevent motorists from driving off the temporary access roadways on both sides of the river, “there will be a line of traffic barriers on either side of the bridge to keep traffic from going over the side,” VanSlambrook said. “The same will be true of the ramp on the Milton side. There will be an asphalt overlay on top of the timber frame mats that you see on the ramp today. There will be an asphalt overlay on the dirt as well (on the Milton side). It will be temporary, of course.”

The concrete traffic barriers will be located on the sides of the ramps. The roadway will be striped in the center. Currently, traffic barriers are placed in the center of the Indiana temporary ramp for construction purposes and will be removed before the ramp is opened to traffic.

“These are actually positioned here to run horizontal lifeline cables for the guys to tie off,” VanSlambrook said of the concrete barriers. “They are for temporary fall protection.”

The temporary ramps will connect to the existing bridge at the final land-based pier on each side of the river.

“On that last horseshoe-shaped leg pier (in Indiana) there will be a new fabricated piece of steel that essentially is a little seat for the temporary ramp framing that goes up here,” VanSlambrook said. “Eventually, when the traffic goes onto the new approach and then jogs onto the new bridge in the temporary position all of that will get torn down. We’ll share support with that existing pier with the temporary pier during its service life.”

The temporary ramp in Milton will redirect traffic to Ferry Street at the Milton boat ramp and to the U.S. 421 route up Milton Hill by way of Ky. Hwy. 36. At that time traffic will cease to access the bridge on the current bridge section located at the Swifty gas station to enable Walsh workmen to begin erecting the new, permanent access to the new bridge.

The temporary ramp in Madison will redirect traffic from the existing bridge to Ind. Hwy. 56 via Vaughn Drive and Ferry Streets. Motorists will travel to Ferry Street at the Key West Shrimp House and turn north (or left) to access Hwy. 56 at the Madison Pilgrim Holiness Church.

The temporary lanes will be connected to the existing bridge during the first five-day closure of the bridge, which is planned for sometime in the spring.