Project manager gives timeline for Milton-Madison bridge

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

Area residents had their first opportunity to meet with key players in the Milton-Madison Bridge replacement project last Tuesday, Jan. 18.

Aaron Stover, project manager for the Michael Baker Jr. architect firm, gave a play-by-play of the project that engineers and contractors will complete the bridge project to a crowd of about 200 people in the gymnasium of the new Milton Elementary School.

Stover’s firm was hired by state officials to oversee the design-build project, which will be orchestrated by Walsh Construction of Indianapolis.

Most of the information presented last week already has been reported, but questions from the audience drew out several new details.

First, the new bridge span will be slightly lower than the existing bridge, which is at 95 feet vertical clearance from the Ohio River. Plans call for dropping the vertical clearance about 5 feet to reduce the steepness of the approaches to the bridge deck.

Second, the new bridge will have no weight limits, but trucks longer than 40 feet will be prohibited. The 15-ton weight limit, however, will remain in place throughout the construction project.

Third, Stover warned the construction project may increase noise and cause some ground vibration in the area. He said the noisiest work will be limited to daylight hours and said estimated ground vibration will not be enough to cause damage to homes or buildings.

Stover said Step One of the project is under way: Walsh crews are building access docks on both sides of the river for barges.

In the next few weeks, crews will build the coffer dams around the existing piers. The coffer dams allow workers to work below the river’s surface at the base of each pier. They also will build the earthen ramps for temporary access to either side of the river.

In spring or summer, the first of the two planned five-day closures will occur as crews switch traffic from the existing approaches to the temporary ones. Crews also will begin installing the temporary piers just downstream from the existing bridge. Once the piers are completed, construction of the new trusses will begin.

Sometime in 2012, traffic will be switched over to the new span, while crews begin demolishing the old bridge. Once that’s completed, work will begin to strengthen and widen the permanent piers.

That, Stover said, will be the last step of the project before the new span is moved into place. That will require the second five-day closure.
The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in mid-September 2012.

Stover again reassurred residents of the safety of the design-build process.

“Safety is a primary concern throughout the project,” and there are many “checks and balances” in place to ensure the integrity of the new span. “Will it be safe? Definitively, we say yes. Nothing’s going to be built that we wouldn’t let our own families travel across.”