Lawmakers OK funding for Milton bridge project

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By Kristen Snyder

The Kentucky General Assembly approved a $4.45 billion two-year road plan late Saturday that includes $62.5 million in funding for Kentucky’s share of the Milton- Madison bridge.

The cost of the project will be evenly split between Indiana and Kentucky said the spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Chuck Wolfe. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant dedicated the initial $20 million to the $131 million project.

Will Wingfield, communications director for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said Tuesday that Indiana’s share of the project cost is also available, but he declined to identify the source of the funding.

In previous articles, Wingfied said Indiana’s portion of the project costs will likely come from one of three funding sources. These include the Major Moves program, which is funded in part by $2.6 billion from the long-term lease of the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80/90) to a private entity; or from the state fuel-tax revenue, federal fuel-tax revenue, or perhaps a combination of both tax-revenue sources, Wingfield said.

The Milton-Madison bridge, built in 1929, has undergone repairs in the last several years, including a $10 million rehabilitation in 1997 to insure the bridge would remain sound and a posted weight limit of 15 tons in March 2009 because of deterioration found during an annual inspection, Wolfe said. 

“Now we’re at the point that the bridge needs replacing,” Wolfe said. “The bridge is woefully out of date and not made for the type of vehicular traffic we have today.”

In a press release, Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, said he is proud the bridge project can now move forward with a guarantee that funding will be available.

“We have known how important this bridge is to our area for many years now,” Rand said. “It will give us a huge lift economically and serve us and the people of Southern Indiana for decades to come.”

The press release stated that during the current 2010 fiscal year, $10 million is provided for preliminary work and land acquisition. In the 2011 fiscal year, which begins July 1, $60 million was allocated for construction and in the 2012 fiscal year $2.5 million was planned for road modifications leading up to the bridge.

The current Milton-Madison bridge is 20 feet wide with no emergency lanes. The new bridge will be constructed using a method called ‘superstructure replacement’ where a new steel structure will be built on top of the existing piers. The piers themselves will also be brought up to modern standards. The new bridge will have a 40 foot deck, two lanes of traffic, with two emergency lanes.

According to Wolfe, the project is estimated to be contracted later this summer and construction on the piers to begin this fall. The bridge will not have to be closed for pier repairs. Construction to the rest of the bridge is estimated to begin in fall of 2011. The bridge is estimated to reopen a maximum of one year later, in the fall of 2012, Wolfe said. While the bridge is closed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will offer a free ferry service across the Ohio river.

“We are eager to see this project get underway and we look forward to its completion,” Wolfe said.