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Upcoming bridge construction will impact local traffic

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By Dave Taylor

Several upcoming bridge repair and replacement projects will affect local motorists in the weeks, months and years to come.

Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson briefed the magistrates of the county’s Fiscal Court about state and U.S. highway road projects during that government body’s June 29 meeting.

The U.S. Hwy. 421 bridge between Milton and Madison was included in the budget passed during the recent special session of the Kentucky General Assembly, the last financial hurdle to getting that project underway, Tomlinson said. Other projects in the works include repairs to the U.S. Hwy. 42 bridge over the Kentucky River between Carrollton and Prestonville, and two bridges near the Locust neighborhood, including total replacement of an aging bridge over Locust Creek on Kentucky Hwy. 36.

Work on the Milton-Madison Bridge superstructure replacement project is expected to begin this fall, according to Wilbur Smith & Associates, the consulting firm that has been advising the transportation departments of both Kentucky and Indiana.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation will construct a new steel truss superstructure atop the existing piers. The estimated $131 million project will require closing the span for up to 12 months during construction.

Work to widen and modernize the existing piers is scheduled to begin this fall, during which time the bridge will remain open. The bridge is expected to close in the fall of 2011 while the steel truss and road deck are replaced. A free ferry service will be offered while the bridge is closed to traffic. The new Milton-Madison Bridge is expected to open to traffic in the fall 2012.

The bridge contract was advertised by both states on June 24. Draft proposals were posted online in late April, allowing potential bidders adequate time to develop proposals before bids are opened in September, according to a news release issued jointly by KYTC and INDOT on June 24. The contract will be awarded to the “qualified, private construction and design team with the lowest cost proposal that also meets all contract requirements,” according to the release.

Kentucky River Bridge

KYTC had a pre-bid meeting with contractors at the District Six Office in Covington last month to discuss replacement of some deteriorating plates on the U.S. 42 bridge over the Kentucky River, Tomlinson said. Although the deteriorating areas needing attention are along the walkways of the bridge, the repair process will require closure of one lane of traffic, he said.

“They may say the traffic signals go back up,” Tomlinson said. “In peak times when the traffic is heavier, they’re supposed to cease with the traffic light and do the flagging.”

Tomlinson said he has been told by KYTC that the repairs will take about 10 days—weather permitting—to complete. Bids should be awarded by the end of July.

“Construction should start fairly soon after that,” Tomlinson said. I’d like to see that done before school starts for sure.”

  Hwy. 36 bridge replacement

KYTC is studying the replacement of an aging bridge over Locust Creek on Hwy. 36. The existing bridge, which Tomlinson believes dates back to the 1930s, features a roadway that is too narrow by current traffic standards and concrete sides that are rapidly deteriorating. The bridge has been the scene of numerous accidents, some with fatalities, over the years, he said.

“At one time they were just going to replace it at the same location,” Tomlinson said. “At that time, I asked them to look at realigning the bridge—eliminating the curves and the hills. The engineering is being done. They’re trying at this time to see what is the best alignment.”

Another advantage to realignment aside from having a safer bridge, is keeping traffic flowing on the existing bridge while the replacement is under construction in an adjacent location, Tomlinson said.

“You don’t have that long shutdown and situation of traffic driving around a detour,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a long period of closures. We ought to be able to do the approaches, build a bridge, transfer the traffic over and then do the demolition on the old one.”

Local officials should have a better idea of how the road and bridge will be realigned by the end of the summer, Tomlinson said. Construction may not begin until next spring.

“I don’t know that for sure,” he said, “but given the track record of how some of these larger projects usually go, it will take some time.”

Another bridge over the creek closer to the Locust community is set for a complete deck replacement “at some point in time in the very near future,” Tomlinson said.

Several minor repairs have been made on the bridge deck on state Hwy. 1492 in recent years, but KYTC has decided to replace it.

“At that time that road would probably be shut down for probably two weeks,” he said.