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...a club for people who never stop learning...

The Scientech Club provides a forum for weekly presentations and discussions in the fields of science and technology and other topics for the enlightenment of its membership.

Regular, one-hour Meetings are, with the exception of holidays, held every Monday at noon at The Northside Knights of Columbus, 2100 East 71st Street, Indianapolis. Club Members, as well as the general public, may attend our Regular Meetings for a nominal contribution to pay for the facility. For those who wish, a buffet lunch may be enjoyed before the meeting. Occasionally, instead of a presentation, members and their guests may take a tour to a place of interest, such as a plant or historical site.

The Scientech Club is associated with an outstanding local charitable Foundation, The Scientech Club Foundation, established by Scientech members to promote science education. Information about the foundation may be found under the heading Foundations above.

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Vol 92 No 25 - July 6, 2015

Unique Design/Construction of a Bridge over the Ohio River at Madison, IN

Presented By: Thomas Bolte, Professional Engineer, Bridge Group Director


Thomas Bolte

Tom Bolte, PE, a lead staff engineer from Burgess & Niple of Columbus, Ohio provided the membership a wonderful overview of the Milton Madison Bridge Replacement in Madison, Indiana starting in 2010. This bridge is key for the area since the next bridge across the Ohio River is over 51 miles round trip. The bridge was built in 1929 for a cost of $1 million, and at first was a toll bridge that charged $0.45 for vehicles. The bridge was purchased by Kentucky in 1939, but in the 1970s a half interest was sold to the state of Indiana. The bridge was only 20 ft. wide, had a weight limit of 15 tons, and was in extremely poor condition.

The state of Kentucky applied for a “Tiger Grant” in 2009 and received a $20 million award for the replacement of the bridge. A major requirement in the grant was that no new right-of-way could be used, meaning that the new bridge had to be constructed in the same location as the existing bridge. In 2010 Indiana working with Kentucky placed an advertisement for a design build bid quote to replace the bridge. The specifications for the bridge also required that a ferry service be provided during the construction of the bridge that could handle 245 cars per hour. During the bid process Burgess & Niple suggested that they would build a new bridge next to the old bridge. The old bridge would then be destroyed, and the new bridge would be slid into place over a 10-day period. This would mean that a ferry service would not be needed, and the bridge would only be closed for a period of 10 days. On 9/22/2010 Walsh Construction was awarded the bid for $103 million, $22 million under the states' estimate.

The Milton-Madison bridge project made history in 2014 by being the longest bridge in the world to be slid laterally into place.

Three of the four piers had to be retrofitted to handle both the old and new bridge at the same time. When the original piers were constructed, they were built from non-reinforced concrete. This then required that coffer dams be constructed to insert 100 steel reinforcement rods in each pier. Then the old piers were encased with new concrete. The reason for the reinforcement was that the original piers might not withstand a direct hit from one of the many barges on the river.

The three new spans were built on barges, floated into position, and then lifted up to the piers. During this phase of the construction the old bridge was used by traffic. New entrance ramps were constructed to allow this, while the original ramps were being replaced. Once the new bridge was in place, traffic was stopped and the old bridge was removed. Then came the major engineering project of sliding the new bridge to where the old bridge had been.

Special strand jacks were used to slide the new bridge into place. The new bridge slid sideways on a surface of stainless steel and Teflon. The strand jacks came from Switzerland, and were run by Swiss workers. The use of laser beams to monitor bridge movement kept the bridge in perfect alignment as it slid into place over a period of two days.

An excellent web site on this project is: Also, You-Tube had a wonderful video of the project at: (Watch the old bridge get blown up into the river!)

This was a wonderful engineering talk that everyone enjoyed.

Notes by Hank Wolfla