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OH River Bridge Slides into History

Thursday, April 17, 2014

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It traveled only 55 feet, but the journey of a half-mile steel truss from its temporary piers to permanent ones has earned the Milton-Madison Bridge a place in bridge-building history.

The lateral move transferred the entire main span over the Ohio River into its permanent position on April 10, restoring the lifeline between Madison, IN, and Milton, KY.

The 30 million-pound new steel truss bridge—2,428 feet long and 40 feet wide—is now on its permanent piers. A five-foot-wide cantilevered sidewalk will be added to the structure in the coming months.

Signs of Progress

On April 12, ambulances escorted by construction crews were allowed to resume use of the bridge. Emergency crews had been using a ferry service across the river since mid-March.

MiltonMadisonBridge
Images, video: www.miltonmadisonbridge.com

The 30 million pound bridge sits on its newly strengthened permanent piers. Two of the spans, totaling more than 2,500 feet long, were built upstream and slid into place.

The main-span slide began April 9 but was halted late that afternoon due to high winds on the river.

General contractor Walsh Construction then 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."

The operation resumed the next morning at 8 and, in the end, took about 12 1/2 hours in all.

The bridge will remain closed while crews pour concrete, install expansion joints, stripe pavement and complete the connections to the permanent approaches.

Weather permitting, officials were planning to reopen the bridge to the public at 11:59 p.m. today (April 17).

Practice Run

The transfer of the new bridge's main span followed the successful slide of a 100-foot approach span of the bridge March 13.

That two-hour project (reduced to about one minute via time-lapse video) was a critical test of the "truss sliding" technology that is one of the accelerated construction techniques being used on the project.

Bearing Replacement - MM Bridge

After a 100-foot approach plan slid successfully into position last month, crews jacked a corner to replace a slipped bearing before the main-span slide.

The $103 million project is also using  "superstructure replacement," in which the existing piers are widened, strengthened and then reused.

The construction techniques and technologies are allowing officials to build the new bridge in the same footprint as its 85-year-old predecessor—and at a fraction of the time and cost of conventional bridge construction, officials say.

How They Did It

The slide began with securing polished steel sliding plates on top of the bridge's 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, officials said.

Officials said the truss was longest ever slid into place in the United States, and probably in the world.

One for the Books

“This is truly a historic accomplishment for everyone involved,” Kevin Hetrick, project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), said after the main-truss slide.

A time-lapse video condenses the 12 1/2-hour-long, record-setting operation into about one minute.

“The people of Indiana and Kentucky should be proud to be a part of this amazing engineering feat.”

Dav Kessinger, Hetrick's counterpart at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, agreed.

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

Construction updates, including a live web cam, are available on the project website. You can also follow the project on Twitter.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Construction; Department of Transportation (DOT); Government contracts; Transportation; Walsh Construction

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