- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

MADISON, Ind. (AP) - A ferry and its crew will help emergency responders bridge the distance between Madison and Milton while the bridge is closed.

The Little Boone - one of three ferries owned by The Anderson Ferry Co. of Hebron, Ky. - arrived in the area Wednesday afternoon after traveling from its home port near Cincinnati.

Stephanie Anderson told The Madison Courier (http://bit.ly/1gpXZWK ) the crew and ferry left around midnight Wednesday after being notified of the emergency bridge closure Tuesday morning.

The bridge was closed after a bearing broke as workers prepared to slide the bridge onto its permanent piers.

The ferry trip took about 12 hours. Two of those hours were spent at the Markland Dam locks, Captain Shawn Somers said - and that was a short wait. Ongoing construction caused delays for river traffic going through the locks.

“Somebody must have called ahead, because we got bumped up,” he said.

Phil Mullins with the Madison Milton Ferry said crews had expected to be in the area today, but the emergency closure changed the schedule.

“We got everything going as quickly as we could,” he said.

The ferry - which will only take emergency crews back and forth across the river - will be docked at the Milton boat ramp throughout its stay in the area. The Milton boat ramp will be closed to the public during the bridge closure.

“It’s really more of an issue for the Kentuckians,” Mullins said of emergency response.

Emergency crews from Kentucky needing to transport patients across the river for medical services now have the opportunity to take a seven- to eight-minute ride on the ferry instead of transporting patients to hospitals that would require more travel time.

King’s Daughters’ Health ambulance crews will be able to travel to Milton to transport and treat patients if they’re needed.

Other emergency services, including police and fire, also would be able to use the ferry service.

“It worked out very well,” Mullins said of the ferry’s use during the previous bridge closure. “We only used it once two years ago.”

Yet the use of the ferry for emergency vehicles could have been the difference of life or death for the patient, he said.

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