The nighttime view of Columbus’ Second Street Bridge, dimmed for several years by vandalism, will be brought back briefly Tuesday evening as engineers conduct tests of a new lighting system intended not only to brighten the skyline but discourage vandals.
City Engineer David Hayward said that the testing, planned for 9 p.m. Tuesday, will illuminate only the south end of the cabled span but should be bright enough for passing motorists and observers to notice but not be distracted by any glare.
“There will be poles set up on the southwest and southeast ends of the bridge with color-changing LED lights situated on them approximately 14 to 15 feet above the road surface,” Hayward said. “The height should eliminate any glare for motorists and, at the same time, pose some difficulty for vandals intent on damaging the lights.”
Hayward said that there would be three lights on each pole. When the system is in full operation, the scene will be brighter than when the original system was put in place when the bridge opened for traffic in 1999.
“These new LED lights will not only provide better illumination, but they will have a longer life than what we had before,” Hayward said.
City officials hope to have the project approved and in operation before the end of the year.
The nighttime view of the bridge was just one of the features that made the crossing over East Fork White River one of the iconic images in Columbus’ architectural array.
The original lights were placed at roadway level, half of them alongside a pedestrian walkway where vandals were able to smash them. Eventually, city officials abandoned efforts to keep the lights on and darkened both sides of the roadway.
The issue was revived earlier this year by an article in The Republic about the darkened condition on the bridge. Mayor Kristen Brown authorized Hayward to prepare estimates on a new lighting system.
In addition to re-lighting the Second Street Bridge, Hayward obtained estimates on installing lights on the overhead span on Interstate 65 above Indiana 46, west of the city. That span was another of the key elements in the massive Front Door project of the early 1990s intended to enhance the western entrance to the city.
Bids for the Second Street project range between $90,000 and $175,000, while the cost estimates for the Interstate 65 overpass are $65,000 to $70,000.
Brown and Hayward have proposed that both projects be funded by the Redevelopment Commission using tax increment financing funds.
Adding the option of adaptable color lighting would increase the budgets by $5,000 to $10,000, and Hayward said the city could alternate the lights, adapting, for instance, orange and blue to reflect the colors of Columbus East and North high schools, or red for the Christmas season.
Tuesday night’s test lighting will be conducted by ESL Spectrum Supplies and James H. Drew Co., both Indianapolis-based.
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