Drivers happy Milton-Madison bridge nearly complete - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Drivers happy Milton-Madison bridge nearly complete

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MADISON, Ind. (WDRB) -- It's the largest bridge slide ever attempted in North America -- possibly the world.

The Milton Madison bridge is being slid onto its permanent piers today. After being closed for several weeks, residents on both sides of the river are more than a little thankful that the bridge will soon re-open.

One resident put it this way: "Praise the Lord, we're going to get a new bridge here shortly."

People we spoke with were aware of the historical significance of the slide.

"This is a part of history, I don't want to miss it," said Milton resident Frances Moore. "You know I might not be able to see anything else that's as exciting as this."

The old bridge linking Madison, Indiana to Milton, Kentucky was built in 1929. Not only was the bridge deteriorating, it was very narrow.

Retired truck driver Dennis Baker knows just how tight of a squeeze it was.

"Every Friday I met the same garbage truck," Baker said. "Every Friday. It was about the same time. And it was a woman driving the garbage truck, and she would get her wheels up to the curb and stop. And you would have about three inches of clearance. It was that close."

Baker and his friends traveled from northern Kentucky to see the old bridge blasted out last year. They were back Wednesday, to watch the slide take place.

"It's just unbelievable what they're trying to do," Baker said. "And what we're hoping for is that it doesn't fall into the river, but if it does, we'll want to see it -- as long as there's nobody on it."

The innovative slide concept saves time and money.

The new bridge was able to stay open -- on temporary piers -- for most of the project Now the new bridge is being on to the old, refurbished piers at a rate of about ten feet an hour.

The new bridge is twice as wide as the old one and weighs 30 million pounds. Hydraulic jacks are being used to pull the half-mile span 55 feet in an estimated 16 hours.

"It's just the anticipation of it," said Milton resident L.F. Stephenson. "Seeing it being moved into place, although you can't actually see it with the eye moving."

A time-lapse video gave us a glimpse of the process a few weeks ago when a small 100-foot chunk was moved.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Andrea Clifford says the world is watching.

"I certainly think that engineers from across the country and around the world will be looking at this," Clifford said. "We've tried to research if there's another span slide of this length -- not in North America. This will be the largest in North America and possibly the world.

It won't be a continuous slide. Engineers will have to stop it occasionally to make sure everything's aligned.

If all goes well, it'll be open to drivers next week after inspections and final touches.

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