Steel Bearing Replaced; Bridge to be Closed Through First Week of April

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By Special to The Banner

Construction crews have completed the job of jacking up the Milton-Madison Bridge and replacing a steel bearing that dislodged last week. The jacking began Friday afternoon at 3:19 p.m. The process took nearly 15 hours to complete as the southeast corner of the bridge was raised nearly one foot in order to slide the new bearing into place. By 6:00 a.m. this morning, the jacks were removed with the bridge load back on its bearings.

“The jacking process went as expected,” said Dav Kessinger, project manager for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “With this work completed, the focus is now on preparations for sliding the main truss.”

Crews will continue installing sliding harnesses, which was in progress when the bearing dislodged, to prepare for the main slide. Additional restraints are being installed and the sliding harnesses modified to ensure there are not any additional problems, and this 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. Meanwhile, Walsh Construction continues to work as they are able on other tasks that must be completed before the bridge reopens to traffic. For example, yesterday crews poured the remaining concrete railings and deck for the approach bridge section that was slid last week.

The concrete approach bridge section that was slid laterally into place over the Milton, Ky., riverbank was a precursor of the upcoming main truss slide because it involved the same equipment and process, only on a smaller scale.  See time lapse video of slide below.

The nearly half-mile steel truss will be slid laterally 55 feet onto refurbished permanent piers. Once the slide is completed, the bridge will remain closed while crews connect the bridge to its permanent location, which includes pouring concrete, installing expansion joints and striping pavement. Structural engineers will continue to monitor and inspect the bridge throughout the process to ensure it is safe through all phases of work.

Additional preparations for the slide, the slide itself and post-slide work mean the bridge will likely remain closed through at least the first week of April.

While U.S. 421 remains closed across the Ohio River between Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky., detours will remain in effect. Signage is detouring traffic to the Markland Locks and Dam Bridge, connecting Kentucky Route 1039 and Indiana State Road 101, 26 miles upstream, or the I-65 Kennedy Bridge in Louisville, 46 miles downstream.

A ferry has been providing transportation across the river for emergency vehicles, such as an ambulance. Residents are asked to keep Ferry Street and the boat ramps clear on both sides of the river.

As updates become available, they will be posted on the project’s website, miltonmadisonbridge.com, and via Twitter at twitter.com/mmbridgeproject. Regular updates will also be provided to local news media.

The Milton-Madison Bridge Project is a joint effort between the Indiana Department of Transportation and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The new steel truss bridge is 2,428 feet long and 40 feet wide with two 12-foot lanes and eight-foot shoulders – twice as wide as the old bridge.