Blue Bridge’s nighttime glow is coming back

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Courtesy Experience GR

Grand Rapids’ historic Blue Bridge will soon again shine bright in the night.

Local contractors began installing new LED light fixtures and lighting control components to upgrade the decorative bridge lighting system. The enhanced lighting will allow the city to once again offer programmed customized lighting schemes at night.

“Special nighttime lighting on the Blue Bridge promotes the city of Grand Rapids, its civic institutions, state and federal holidays, and other public events,” said Evette Pittman, supervisor of the office of special events. “We’re thrilled that this project will again allow us to accept community requests for special active lighting. The community appreciates this feature on the bridge. The lighting helps call attention to specific causes. It also helps to commemorate or enhance specific events connected with our city.”

Grand Rapids’ Energy, Lighting, and Communication Department and the Downtown Development Authority funded the $80,000 project to replace and repair lighting fixtures on the Blue Bridge that were at the end of its life cycle and not operable over the past year. The project includes replacing 53 decorative lighting fixtures and the installation of 11 new LED pedestrian walkway lights to increase minimum lighting levels for public safety.

Lighting installation will take place every weekday through Aug. 28. Construction this week will permit limited pedestrian access across the bridge. The structure will close daily from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 24-28. Crews have reserved the week of Aug. 31-Sept. 4 for installation resulting from possible weather delays.

The city’s office of special events administers the Blue Bridge lighting schedule. An online application for special active lighting will be available online on Sept. 7.

Requests should be submitted 10 business days before the requested start date. Staff considers requests for lighting based on availability. Organizations can request special active lighting for up to five business days. Staff also can create customized light schemes upon request.

Now known as the Blue Bridge, the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Bridge was built in 1892 and is the oldest railway bridge in the city, according to the Grand Rapids Historical Commission.

Trains stopped running on the bridge in the 1980s. It now serves as a pedestrian walkway connecting downtown with Grand Rapids Public Museum, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and Grand Valley State University.

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