About 25 lighting schemes programmed for Sakonnet Bridge

Posted 9/15/14

PORTSMOUTH/TIVERTON — Drivers have either been dazzled or bewildered by the colorful light shows on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.

Well, brace yourself. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge …

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About 25 lighting schemes programmed for Sakonnet Bridge

Posted

PORTSMOUTH/TIVERTON — Drivers have either been dazzled or bewildered by the colorful light shows on the new Sakonnet River Bridge.

Well, brace yourself. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) has programmed specific color schemes for no fewer than 25 different holidays and special days throughout the year.

RITBA, a community partner for “Light it Red for Lymphoma,” is even planning to light up the bridge in red tonight, Sept. 15, for National Blood Cancer Awareness Month.

Drivers and residents who live near the bridge got their first taste of the amped-up lighting displays the evening of Sept. 10, when subcontractors to Commonwealth Engineers — the engineers on the bridge project —set up an Apple laptop on a folding table near the bike path on the span’s Portsmouth side.

Scott Stipetic, senior system integrator for Barbizon Lighting Company of Woburn, Mass., and Tom Ladd, a programmer and subcontractor for Barbizon, tested numerous color themes and programmed them for RITBA’s future use. They arrived around 1 p.m. and didn’t leave until shortly before 10 p.m.

“They had given us a list of colors they thought they could use for various holidays,” explained Mr. Stipetic. “We showed them the colors they thought they wanted and then we tweaked them via computer control to meet the color everyone thought they had in mind. We gave them a select color palette they could select from.”

They agreed on color schemes for at least 25 special days and holidays, ranging from Halloween (orange and purple) and Thanksgiving (gold, orange and brown) to Columbus Day (medium green, white).

“Now it’s in its default state, so it’s always going to be a medium blue when it’s not a holiday,” he said.

Expect a real light show on New Year’s Eve, when you’ll see a “rainbow effect” on the bridge, according to Mr. Stipetic. “For one hour, from 11:30 to 12:30, there’s actually going to be motion on the lights so you’l actually see the lights change,” he said.

Now that the lights have been programmed, the Turnpike Authority will be able to control the displays over its closed network system, Mr. Stipetic said. “It’s all done over the internet.”

Next year, when the old bridge is scheduled to come down, you can expect even more lights on the new span, he said, noting that the concrete pilings on the new span will have LEDs installed near the water.

Despite the elaborate lighting schemes planned, Mr. Stipetic said drivers will probably never get to see the bridge truly strut its stuff.

“Each light pole has two LED engines in it — an upper and lower,” he said. “The pole can actually be divided into two different colors, but the DOT feels that’s a little busy for drivers. The bridge is capable of a lot, but this is far as they wanted to go.”

Responds to critics

Mr. Stipetic said he and Mr. Ladd had plenty of supporters while they were on the bridge Sept. 10.

“We had people honking and people yelling out their windows about how pretty it was,” he said.

Informed that some residents have complained about light pollution or that the displays are an unnecessary expense, Mr. Stipetic responded by urging people to simply come out to see there lights themselves.

“All you’ve got to do is drive over. It’s quite an experience,” he said, adding that the views from below the bridge are even better. “It looks stunning from the water.”

Click the thumbnails below for more views of the light show on the bridge last week.

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