Milton-Madison Bridge closure challenges first responders - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Milton-Madison Bridge repairs to proceed after steel bearing dislodged

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MILTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Repair work on the Milton-Madison Bridge will allow the slide of the new truss of Milton-Madison Bridge to proceed, bridge officials say.

Tuesday morning, officials closed the bridge after a steel bearing was dislodged and injured a worker.

Crews will begin sliding a 100-foot concrete bridge section over the Milton, Ky. river bank on Thursday, according to a news release. This will take much of the day to complete. Preparations are continuing to slide the nearly half-mile steel truss laterally 55 feet onto permanent piers. The schedule for the truss slide has not been determined, but is expected to take place sometime in March.

Meanwhile, the bridge is still closed, with no reopening date in sight. The unexpected closure is not only hitting pocketbooks, but has many looking at it as a life-or-death situation.

A ferry is now in place to take ambulances across the river, but some people are still concerned.

Inspections continue on the Milton-Madison Bridge, as does work at local businesses that employ people from both Kentucky and Indiana. For those commuting across state lines, the dislodging of a steel bearing between the bridge and a pier means up to three times the cost in gas.

Luckily for Deana Walters, her boss is understanding.

"Usually it takes about 15-20 minutes," said Walters. "Now it takes me an hour-and-a-half."

Walters says her boss is reimbursing her for gas money.

"First he offered us a hotel room, but instead, we all just decided to do the commute," she said. "And he's paying the gas."

But for those with medical conditions, they say it's more than a longer commute -- it's life or death. Phillip Sachleben has had five heart attacks, and has 12 stints. He was most recently in the hospital three weeks ago.

"By the time you wait for the ambulance and get you situated to go, I worry about it," referring to the transfer of ambulance by ferry.

Trimble County EMS says the ferry that will taxi their ambulances to the nearest hospital in Madison is reliable, but adds 10-15 minutes onto the trip -- a trip that would normally take five minutes.

And for Phillip, those minutes count.

"Every second means whether you are going to make it or whether you're not," Sachleben said.

Emergency responders say they can go to hospitals in Carrollton or La Grange, or air lift patients if necessary, but that could lengthen the amount of time before patients get proper medical treatment.

Trimble County EMS says they don't employ medics. If a patient needs serious medical treatment prior to arrival at a hospital, they'll either have to be airlifted or the ambulance will have a medic from another county meet them.

Transportation officials say the ferry is ready to go 24 hours a day. According to Andrea Clifford with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, dispatch will call the ferry when an ambulance is on its way, allowing plenty of time for the ferry to prepare.

Clifford says Walsh Construction will not be responsible for any extra costs if a patient has to be airlifted instead of taken by ferry.

The bridge has been closed for five days over the span of the project. Two days for the steel bearing incident, three others in 2012. INDOT officials say according to their contract, if Walsh Construction goes past 10 days, they'll have to pay $25,000 a day.

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