A week after the historic slide of the Milton-Madison Bridge, traffic is again flowing across the Ohio River span that connects Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind., via U.S. Highway 421. The bridge reopened to all motorists yesterday evening at 7:20 p.m. local time.
“It’s a great day for the citizens of Madison and Milton. Hoosiers and Kentuckians alike are to be commended for patiently waiting to see the bridge in its permanent home and to resume driving across it,” said Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. “I express my appreciation for the hard work and professionalism of the Indiana Department of Transportation, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Walsh Construction for this historic project.”
“Today marks a major milestone in what has truly been a historic project,” said Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear. “Watching the bridge slide into place last week was incredible. The community should be proud of being part of engineering history.”
Spanning nearly a half mile, the truss of the Milton-Madison Bridge is the longest bridge in North America—and perhaps the world—to be slid laterally into place. Walsh Construction and its subcontractors slid it 55 ft from temporary supports onto the refurbished original piers. The 30 million-lb new steel truss bridge is 2,428 ft long and 40 feet wide with two 12-ft lanes and 8-ft shoulders—twice as wide as the old bridge. A 5-ft-wide cantilevered sidewalk will be added to the structure this summer. The original Milton-Madison Bridge opened in 1929.
Following the slide, structural engineers inspected the bridge and determined it was safe to reopen to all traffic. For the first time in many years, large trucks will be able to cross the bridge, enhancing the economies of Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind.
There will be additional work following the reopening, which includes completion of the pier caps, removal of the temporary piers, installation of measures to protect the refurbished piers and some painting. As a result, the bridge is still considered a work zone and has a 20-mph speed limit. Drivers also will encounter some occasional lane shifts. Motorists are urged to proceed with caution while the bridge remains an active work zone.
In addition, before the project is officially completed, areas used for construction will be restored, including rebuilding volleyball courts and a shelter, grading of the shorelines and improvements to Vaughn Drive. Those items are expected to be finished this summer, bringing the project to a close less than four years after the groundbreaking ceremony in November 2010 and at a total cost expected to be significantly lower than original projections.
The project got a kick-start from the federal stimulus package, receiving a $20 million TIGER grant as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.