What do you think of the colorful Sakonnet Bridge lights?

The colored Sakonnet Bridge lights, as seen from the southbound lanes on the Portsmouth side Sunday night. The colored Sakonnet Bridge lights, as seen from the southbound lanes on the Portsmouth side Sunday night.

The colored Sakonnet Bridge lights, as seen from the southbound lanes on the Portsmouth side Sunday night.

The colored Sakonnet Bridge lights, as seen from the southbound lanes on the Portsmouth side Sunday night. The reddish light in the middle of the frame blinked on and off, while the others did not.

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 new lights as seen from beneath the Sakonnet Bridge at the Hummocks in Portsmouth Sunday night.

The new lights as seen from beneath the Sakonnet Bridge at the Hummocks in Portsmouth Sunday night.

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.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments section below or drop us a line at jmcgaw@eastbaynewspapers.com.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Margaret Smyth said:

    Absolutely awful. For those of us who live on the Sakonnet River the view of the bridge itself is bad enough; why do we have to have its presence emphasized? No one asked for this additional light pollution, and it quite spoils the beautiful night view to have these garish lights. Those who are crossing the bridge only see them for seconds; the adjacent residents have them all night.

  2. Ron Skinner said:

    Not having seen the lights other than in the two photos in this article, and having gone back to them three times, wishing that my comment didn’t have to be really negative, the best I can say is that the lights bring to mind the perimeter of a high security detention center.

  3. cjohnson said:

    Yet another travesty for the Sakonnet Bridge. Toll costs are twice that of the world famous Golden Gate Bridge ($5.00 one way) and now the Ferris Wheel lights completely ruin the serene view of the Sakonnet night sky. Did they think they were making an amusement park bridge for cars to pay to go over? Joyce is right. Too logical to use the $650,000. for maintenance.

    • Bruce Epke said:

      Margaret makes a great point that drivers get only a quick glimpse of the lights while traversing the bridge. I’m quite sure it never occurred to any of the designers that maybe, just maybe, the folks who have to look at their mess all night every night might not like having the neighborhood turned into a cheap carnival. Maybe they’ll park a cotton candy truck at either end of the bike path for us, too.

      I believe I read in the last article that in their presentation when these lights apparently ‘met the approval’ of the assemblage that reference was made to ‘a signature bridge like the Zakim’. So I’ll say it again, which genius at the DOT thinks he’s I.M.Pei ferchrissakes? There is no resemblance whatsoever between the two bridges or the character of the two towns they connect. This exercise in bad taste is a hugely offensive example of lipstick on the pig.

      They took us round and round in circles trying to make sure they built the most dirt-cheap (earthen berm) bridge they possibly could, and then spent the savings on some system their lighting sales rep sold them on?!

      Thanks for helping to make my Ferris Wheel analogy stick, CJ.

      • Margaret Smyth said:

        The Zakim bridge is in the middle of downtown Boston, with it and the adjoining ramps carrying the fourteen lanes of traffic of the I-93. It is right next to the TD Garden, New England’s biggest arena hosting over 3.5 million people a year.

        As Bruce says, hardly an appropriate comparison.

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