Columbus officials want to brighten Columbus’ Front Door by relighting the Second Street Bridge and installing new lights on the Interstate 65 span over Jonathan Moore Pike.
When the Second Street Bridge, which forms the gateway to the city’s downtown, opened in 1999, its cable and upper structure were brightly illuminated at night by powerful arc lights placed at sidewalk level.
That nighttime illumination, coupled with the panoramic view of the downtown centered on the Bartholomew County Courthouse, quickly established the bridge as one of the most popular architectural landmarks in the city.
Unfortunately, the bridge was darkened a few years after the 1999 opening by vandals who seriously damaged the lighting system placed alongside a pedestrian walkway.
Proposals to brighten Columbus’ Front Door will be presented to the Columbus Redevelopment Commission at its 6 p.m. Monday meeting.
Columbus City Engineer David Hayward said that the proposals were in the preliminary stage and that cost estimates ultimately would be based upon the choices made by the city from a variety of options presented by several suppliers and contractors.
Mayor Kristen Brown directed Hayward to look into the matter and collect estimates.
“Right now we’re looking at bids between $90,000 and $175,000 for the Second Street Bridge relighting and $65,000 to $70,000 for the system on the overpass,” she said.
The Redevelopment Commission will be asked to provide the funding, but Hayward noted that individual contributions to the projects would be welcome.
“I’ve already had one individual come forward who would be willing to help support the relighting of the Second Street Bridge,” he added.
In asking for proposals from contractors and suppliers, Hayward stressed the need for a plan that would offer protection from vandalism.
“One approach that looks promising gets away from the old system of having the lights on the walkway and instead placing three lights each on separate poles at either end of the bridge,” Hayward said. “It would be high enough that vandals would really have to work at getting to them and has the added benefit in that we won’t have to worry about damaging them when we’re plowing snow.”
The concept for adding lights to the I-65 overpass was an addendum to the Second Street plans.
Both the bridge and overpass were important elements in the massive 1990s Front Door project aimed at providing a dramatic entrance to the city on the west side.
Hayward said that the situation originally created by the vandalism provides the city with some exciting potential for improvements that didn’t exist in 1999.
“The changes in (lighting) technology that have occurred since the bridge opened are simply amazing,” he said. “We might even be able to go with LED lights, which have a longer life and don’t need to be changed so often.”
Hayward said the city could use different colors for the lights throughout the year.
“For a pretty small premium of $5,000 to $10,000, we can change colors. For instance we could use green lights at Christmas or red around Valentine’s Day,” he said.
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