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Bridge work slows traffic

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Stability of piers investigated as part of bridge solution project

By Lorrie Kinkade

By LORRIE KINKADE

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Beginning last Friday, commuters using the Milton-Madison Bridge were forced to wait in long lines when officials with the Kentucky Department of Transportation blocked one lane of the thoroughfare with vehicles and large machinery. Though the closure that lasted until yesterday was inconvenient to drivers, it was necessary, according to spokesperson Andrea Clifford, for engineers to obtain samples needed to test the stability of the structure’s support piers.

The tests will determine if the piers can sustain a new superstructure in the event that transportation officials from Indiana, Kentucky and the federal government determine that is the best action to remedy concerns with the current bridge.

And though it will be weeks before the integrity of the piers is known, an advisory panel assigned to research replacement alternatives continues to consider the possibility.

However, if members of the bridge project advisory group decide to recommend a new bridge be built, they now have nine possible locations on the table.

When members of group met Jan. 13, three new location alternatives were added to the six discussed in prior meetings.

The new suggestions were Catnip Creek, Eagle Hollow and “Around Milton.”

In the Catnip Creek solution, the bridge would span from SR 56 in Indiana and School Hollow Road in Milton. School Hollow Road would be upgraded to intersect US 421 and would be raised out of the floodplain. The bridge approach would create an overpass at KY 36.

The Eagle Hollow alternative would connect SR 56 and KY 36, with overpasses as each. It would be built 1.9 miles upstream of the current bridge. Possible hurdles at this location would be the proximity to known archaeological sites and historic structures, as well as the lack of connections to bicycle/pedestrian routes.

The Around Milton route would create an overpass at KY 36, use or parallel School Hollow Road and connect to US 421 at an angle that engineers claim would improve the sharp curve near the runaway truck ramp. Detrimental to this plan, the Madison approach would likely be positioned in the Historic District.

Ideally, in the process of recommending to officials a bridge solution that included new construction, a location would be selected by PAG members prior to discussing bridge designs. But due to the likelihood that the federal government could release additional funds for large transportation projects in the coming year, managers assigned to the project are attempting to reach a conclusion sooner through simultaneous discussions.

With that in mind, a public hearing will take place Feb. 12 from 6-8 p.m. at the Brown Memorial Gymnasium in Madison, Ind. At the meeting, illustrations of 18 bridge design options will be displayed for electronic polling by the public.

Rather than taking a “majority rules” approach on the specific design that receives the highest positive response, the polling technology to be used will determine the common characteristics of the top selections. That information will then be used as a roadmap for engineers to create designs with as many of the popular aspects as allowable.

Public polling “allows the community to have input for the designers to use to come up with better designs,” project manager John Carr of Wilbur Smith Associates said at the PAG meeting.

After the site selection process concludes, approximately six designs created through the February polling will be presented again for public input.

For more information on the bridge project, information can be found online at MiltonMadisonBridge.com.