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Louisville, Ky. – After more than two years of construction on the new Milton-Madison Bridge, workers are gearing up for some of the final – and most anticipated – stages of the project, expected to take place this summer.
The first milestone occurs early next week when traffic is switched from the old bridge to the new bridge in its temporary location. Project contractor Walsh Construction expects the switch to take place on June 3 or 4.
For the past year, drivers have used temporary ramps to access the existing US 421 bridge. But following the traffic switch, they will use newly-constructed permanent approaches in Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind. Near the end of the approach, drivers will access a short transition span that takes them to the new bridge, which is about 15 feet west of the old bridge.
The new bridge is 40 feet wide – twice as wide as the old bridge. It has two twelve-foot lanes and 8-foot shoulders.
With the traffic pattern change comes a temporary weight limit. Since March 2012, the existing bridge has been posted with a 3-ton weight limit and a 36-foot vehicle-length restriction. The weight limit increases to 15 tons while the new span sits on temporary piers, and the 36-foot length restriction remains in place.
Once traffic is diverted to the new bridge, workers will begin demolishing the steel truss of the old bridge. Extra care will be taken to protect the existing piers, which are being strengthened and reused. The final step comes later this summer, when the new 2,427-foot-long bridge will be slid onto the renovated existing piers. The bridge is expected to close for about a week while the slide and approach connections are completed.
Walsh Construction Company’s innovative multistep method of replacing the bridge has allowed the bridge to remain open during construction, avoiding the originally expected year-long closure.