What do you think of the colorful Sakonnet Bridge lights?


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.

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



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$650,000 for new lights on the Sakonnet. Could that money have been used for bridge maintenance? Probably not, too logical.

Monday, July 15, 2013 | Report this

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.

Monday, July 15, 2013 | Report this

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.

Monday, July 15, 2013 | Report this

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.

Monday, July 15, 2013 | Report this

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.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 | Report this

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.