Building new bridge likely to bring many changes to area

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

If you haven’t seen the information outlining the possible new locations for the Milton-Madison bridge, you should. We had information in last week’s issue about on the topic, and we’re planning to go even more in-depth in issues to come..

On the table are a flurry of possiblities that made my head spin the first time I started looking at them.

I can’t say which one I prefer at the moment. Each one will cause many changes for the area, and many could mean changing the entire face of this section of Milton.

One possibility even appears to be located crossing where Richwood Plantation sits. I can’t imagine something like that happening; not only is this a wonderful old house, it’s an historic landmark.

It’s possible, checking the maps, that one alternative location could even mean my husband and I would have to move. But again, putting the bridge where our house is also would compromise an apartment building in a renovated portion of an old distillery. Again, an historic location that I can’t really see being destroyed for the bridge.

But, I could be wrong.

Another possibility in building the new bridge is built parallel to the existing one, just a few yards east – an option favored by Bedford insurance salesman and State Rep. Rick Rand. I wonder, would that affect established businesses like Swifty, Dairy Queen, Farmers Bank of Milton and others?

And what about landmarks across the river?

It seems that this will be a difficult decision to make, once planners get to that point.

All I know is, building a new bridge would be a good thing, because the current structure is too narrow and was never meant to carry the traffic it sees today. That is made more obvious with the recently imposed weight limit of 15 tons, which effectively has rerouted most commercial truck traffic at least through summer.

There are some people who believe the historic structure should be preserved. .... is circulating a petition to save the structure for recreational and tourism use – limiting it to pedestrians and bicycles.

That sounds like a terrific idea.

As a photographer, I would love access to that span for some photos. I’ve seen beautiful sunsets that just beg to be photographed.

While talking with Rep. Rand, though, I realized that this is a tall order. Rand said maintenance just to keep the structure safe for pedestrian traffic would be enormously expensive. Just sprucing it up with a new coat of paint can cost several million dollars. Who would pay for it?

In lieu of idea, I hope perhaps the firm hired to design and build the new span considers including a walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists.

I would guess that, if and when the time comes to bring down this old span, we will have to be prepared and know that progress can sometimes be painful.

Phyllis McLaughlin is interim editor of Trimble Banner.