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Public polled on bridge design preferences

By Lorrie Kinkade

If license plates on the cars parked near Brown Memorial Gymnasium were an accurate indication, Kentucky and Indiana residents had nearly equal representation at a meeting last Thursday night to discuss potential construction of a new Milton-Madison Bridge.

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The Feb. 12 meeting was intended to give the general public an opportunity to speak with transportation officials, project engineers, designers and others working to develop a plan for replacing or rehabilitating the structure connecting Milton, Ky. with Madison, Ind.

Although the meeting was billed as focusing primarily on bridge design, visitors were also given the chance to view displays touting possible locations for a new structure and were allowed to complete written surveys focused on where a new bridge, if deemed necessary, should be built.

Typically, a construction location is selected prior to design considerations, however project officials hope to complete the bridge research process within three years, increasing funding possibilities and leading to the concurrent studies of location, design and environmental issues.

The 166 people attending Thursday’s meeting, 77-percent of whom were not related to the project studies in any other way, spent the majority of their time participating in an electronic polling process that will help designers gauge what attendees find aesthetically pleasing when it comes to a bridge in their figurative backyard.

On large projection screens, a total of 18 designs, including six each of cable stay, truss and arch bridges, were displayed for the group to rank their opinions on a scale of one to nine, with nine being most appealing.

Each design was created using three views – from the Milton side, from Madison and from a driver’s perspective.

On average, the truss style bridges, similar to the current structure built in 1929, were least popular, with one garnering the lowest score of the night and comments such as “boring” and “looks like a railroad bridge.”

Receiving most favorable ratings from the group were the cable stay bridges, with the lowest scoring an average 4.69 and the highest 6.17.

Comments voiced about the top scoring bridge, a light-colored cable stay, included the open design, modern feel and need for fewer piers in comparison to some of the other options.

“And there’s no place for the pigeons,” one audience member commented.

Project designers will use the information submitted through the electronic polling, as well as written comments submitted at the meeting and through the group’s website to draft additional concept designs using the characteristics judged most favorably.

Those designs will be presented at the next public input meeting, scheduled for later this year.

Dr. Ted Grossart, program manager for University of Kentucky’s Policy and Systems Analysis Division, began the polling process by explaining how those gathered were “sort of responsible for yourself, your kids, grandkids and people you don’t even know.”

The designs shown at the meeting may be viewed, and comments submitted, by going to www.miltonmadisonbridge.com.