MADISON, Ind.– Gov. Steve Beshear today joined Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in a ceremonial groundbreaking for a long-awaited project to replace the aged Ohio River bridge that connects the neighbor states at Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.
The Milton-Madison Bridge, completed in December 1929, replaced ferries and today carries U.S. 421 over the Ohio River. The bridge represented a leap forward in transportation but no longer meets modern standards. The replacement bridge will be built with construction innovations that will allow completion in far less time, for far less money and with less public disruption than was first estimated.
“A bridge, by definition, transcends an obstacle that would otherwise divide people, communities – even entire states,” Gov. Beshear said. “It was a great day 81 years ago when the current Milton-Madison Bridge was opened, and the obstacle of a great river was overcome. This is another great day as we break ground for a new bridge that will serve both our states for generations to come.”
“This is a project the community has been seeking for decades and I’m really proud of both states for providing not just a way to get it done, but in such an ingenious way,” Gov. Daniels said. “It will be done years ahead of schedule and less expensively than previously thought. And the best thing for the towns on both sides of the river is that traffic will be disrupted for less than two weeks rather than a year.”
The project received a $20 million grant under TIGER – Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
“Recovery Act dollars are creating jobs and delivering projects to meet the needs of communities all around the country,” said Secretary LaHood. “The new Milton-Madison Bridge will restore full service on a critical link between Kentucky and Indiana, improving the quality of life for area residents.”
Extensive testing by Kentucky engineers determined that piers of the current steel-truss bridge are sound enough to support the new bridge – thereby reducing estimated completion time. The decision was made to obtain contracting through Indiana, whose procurement laws permitted a “design-build” approach.
Walsh Construction Co., of LaPorte, Ind., won the contract with a low bid of $103 million – $28 million below the original estimate – thanks to a construction technique that will require closure of the bridge for only 10 days in all.
The company will build a new bridge on temporary piers alongside the old bridge. After the deck of the old bridge has been removed and the existing piers widened, the new bridge deck will be slid into place.
Other construction proposals envisioned a bridge closure for up to a year, with ferries being used in the interim.