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Preparation work continues for the slide of the Milton-Madison Bridge, which is tentatively scheduled to begin Sunday morning, April 6. Rain expected later this week could force a delay if it impacts the ability of construction crews to complete final preparations for the slide. Once the bridge is moved onto its permanent piers, it will take approximately a week to complete inspections, road connections to the bridge and other work, which means the bridge will remain closed until mid-April.
Additional restraints are being installed and the sliding harnesses modified as part of the prep work. This additional work follows a four-step process: The measures are designed off site, the designs are reviewed by the states, the materials are fabricated and/or delivered to the site, and finally, they are installed by bridge crews.
Each of the four steps has its own timeline, and one must be completed before the next. “We’re working diligently and carefully to move the bridge and get it reopened safely and in a timely manner,” said Kevin Hetrick, project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
Structural engineers will continue to monitor and inspect the bridge throughout the process to ensure it is safe through all phases of work. Meanwhile, Walsh Construction crews continue to work as they are able on other tasks that must be completed before the bridge reopens to traffic, such as installing the remaining concrete railings and deck for the Indiana and Kentucky approaches to the bridge.
The emergency ferry, which has been providing transportation across the river for emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance, is suspending runs after dark due to an elevated river level and excessive debris in the water. Existing medical helicopter service will be available for critical emergencies during those times.
Last month construction crews completed the job of jacking up the bridge and replacing a steel bearing that dislodged March 11. The southeast corner of the bridge was raised nearly one foot in order to slide the bearing into place. The jacks were then removed, placing the bridge load back on its bearings. (Hi-res images of jacking process can be downloaded by clicking here.)
On March 13, a 100-foot concrete approach bridge section was slid laterally into place over the Milton, Ky., riverbank. This was a precursor of the upcoming main truss slide because it involved the same equipment and process. Time-lapse video is available on the project website’s News Center page: click here to view time-lapse video.
The nearly half-mile steel truss will be slid laterally 55 feet onto refurbished permanent piers. While there have been reportedly more than 30 bridge slides in the U.S., the Milton-Madison Bridge will be the longest steel truss (2,428 feet) in North America to be slid laterally into place.