Thursday, April 10, 2014

As Dizzy Dean would say, they slud the bridge into place today. Here's the announcement from the Milton-Madison Bridge Project:

Historic Milton-Madison Bridge Slide Complete

MADISON, Ind. – The record-breaking slide of the Milton-Madison Bridge is complete. This afternoon the new bridge’s 55-foot journey from temporary piers to its permanent, refurbished piers came to a successful completion.

To view time-lapse video of slide, click on this YouTube link:

Spanning nearly a half mile, the truss of the Milton-Madison Bridge is now the longest bridge in North America – and perhaps the world – to be slid laterally into place, making this a historic day for Madison, Indiana and Milton, Kentucky.

The slide began yesterday morning, but was halted in the late afternoon due to high winds over the Ohio River.  Walsh Construction, which is building the Milton-Madison Bridge, brought in materials from the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project to help deal with windy conditions and assist in synchronizing the slide onto the bridge’s five piers. This allowed the slide to resume this morning at approximately 8:00 a.m.

“It’s great to see the bridge completed and sitting in its permanent location,” said Dav Kessinger, project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “This bridge will serve the area well for decades to come.”

“This is truly a historic accomplishment for everyone involved,” said Kevin Hetrick, project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). “The people of Indiana and Kentucky should be proud to be a part of this amazing engineering feat.”

Polished steel sliding plates were secured on top of the refurbished piers. Steel cables and eight computer-controlled hydraulic jacks were used to pull the bridge through a series of grabs and pulls until the bridge was slid into place. The 30-million pound new steel truss bridge is 2,428-feet long and 40-feet wide with two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot shoulders – twice as wide as the old bridge. A 5-foot-wide cantilevered sidewalk will be added to the structure in the coming months. The original Milton-Madison Bridge opened in 1929.

Now that the slide is complete, it will take approximately a week to complete inspections, road connections to the bridge and other work before the bridge is reopened to traffic.

During the closure, motorists relying on the bridge are being rerouted to one of two other bridges – the Markland Locks and Dam Bridge on Kentucky Route 1039 and Indiana State Road 101, 26 miles upstream, or the Kennedy Bridge on Interstate 65 in Louisville, 46 miles downstream.

Also during the closure, an emergency ferry is continuing to transport emergency medical vehicles across the river between the Milton boat ramp near Ferry St. and the temporary Ferry St. landing in Madison. Residents are asked to keep these areas clear to allow access for emergency vehicles if necessary.

The Milton-Madison Bridge Project – a joint effort between the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – has received numerous awards. It was named one of the top 10 bridge projects in the country by Roads & Bridges magazine, received a 2012 Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science magazine and received several state and national engineering awards for innovation. For more information, visit or follow the project on Twitter.

From the archives: The Helen S

Thirty years ago, Ohio River Co. boats were all over the part of the Ohio River where I live. One of them was the Helen S, a Dravo-built boat. Here are a couple of images I pulled from some black and white negatives in my archives.

As far as I know, the Helen S is now the Jonathan Erickson of Marquette Transportation, and it spends most of its time on the Upper Mississippi. As of this morning, its last position was above Lock and Dam 22.

I know enough about business to know that names and companies come and go, but I kind of miss seeing Ohio River Co. boats. Nice name, nice boats.