UPDATE: shorter closing for Milton-Madison Bridge - WDRB 41 Louisville News

UPDATE: shorter closing for Milton-Madison Bridge

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MADISON, IND. (WDRB Fox 41) -- Historic Madison, Indiana may be small and quaint, but that's exactly what draws so many tourists from bigger cities.  "It's leisure time," says Steven Thomas, owner of The Thomas Family Winery. "People come here not to hustle and bustle but they get to relax."

Many visitors have to cross the Milton-Madison Bridge to get to this slice of Americana. But it's not an easy drive to make. "We have two bicycles on the back of our SUV, and they stick out a little bit, so I was trying to hug the right side quite a bit," says Indianapolis visitor Joe Koss.

It's a problem that hasn't gone unnoticed by transportation officials or Madison city leaders.

But it's not just the width that concerns engineers -- it's also the structural integrity of the bridge. The Milton-Madison was built 80 years ago. A recent study shows it's in such poor shape, it has about ten years left.

"It's needed to come down for some time and be replaced," says Madison Mayor Tom Armstrong. His only viable option -- close the bridge for a year while building a new one. Folks would have to ferry across the Ohio River, and shop owners knew their business would quickly sink.

"What we worry about the most is that when everybody in Madison gets hurt, everybody suffers," says Thomas.

"We even had some that were saying they were looking into moving one side or the other because of the inconvenience," says Armstrong.

But the Indiana Department of Transportation announced this week that Walsh Construction will not only double the width of the bridge, but they'll only close the bridge for ten days.

"I was on Cloud 9, I thought it was Christmas in September almost," says Armstrong.

Crews will build a deck on temporary piers, then they'll slide it on top of the permanent piers using steel planks. Drivers will use alternate bridges in Louisville or Markland to get around for those ten days.

"Our community, or citizens, our workforce can tolerate that," says Armstrong.

Groundbreaking for the new bridge is scheduled for November 30th and it's expected to open September 15, 2010.

 More information about the project can be found at www.MiltonMadisonBridge.com.

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