PORTSMOUTH — As promised, the colorful “decorative” vertical lights on the Sakonnet River Bridge were finally switched on for an extended period Sunday night, bathing the span in a lavender hue.
Until Sunday, drivers and those who live near the bridge only saw the LED lights — installed on the bridge deck’s light bulbs — for brief instances as they were being tested.
Plenty of drivers got a close-up view of the lights Sunday night, however, as traffic was backed up on the northbound lanes due to construction work from the afternoon through to the evening. It was not immediately clear if the lights were related to the bridge work.
The decorative lights “can be changed to almost any color except for red or green, which are used by the Coast Guard for navigational purposes,” R.I. Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Bryan Lucier had said previously.
“This technology allows the lights to remain one color or even be changed to commemorate a holiday or special event, much like what is done with the State House dome in Providence,” he said.
The colorful lights had their share of critics even before most people had seen them. Several residents as well as some local amateur astronomers have railed against the lights, calling them “light pollution.”
“It has a lovely dark sky down there, and now you’re going to be throwing light pollution into the sky,” said Pete Peterson of the Astronomical Society of Southern New England (ASSNE), after seeing photo renderings of the colored lights.
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