The Downtown Memphis Commission announced plans to replace the existing light bulbs on the Hernando Desoto Bridge -- 196 total -- with new LED lighting that is "color optional." The color choices have not yet been made, but options include seasonal colors or team colors.
The current lighting is reaching the end of its useful life and is in need of repair and replacement.
The lighting project for the "M" bridge mirror the work happening farther south on the river at the Harahan Bridge. A similar lighting project is part of the overall $17.5 million renovation of the pedestrian bridge, which will be known as Big River Crossing,
Mayor Strickland celebrated both projects, saying the bridges were the "most iconic images of our city." After signing the agreement, he said, "This is a major step forward and huge win for our city -- both our image, and the bridges’ ability to further the pride we all have in Memphis."
He also noted that this work is not being funded by taxpayer dollars. Private donors have contributed to pay for the $10 million needed for the initial lighting, plus another $1.5 million for maintenance, management and operation for the next 15 years. Additional funding was also needed for project engineers to oversee and manage the lights’ installation. Overall, private contribution is around $12 million.
Strickland called the lights "state of the art," saying they will be programmable and capable of displaying millions of colors in static and moving patterns coordinated between the two bridges. The lighting systems and their installation will be provided by Philips Lighting. Philips has designed and installed projects at the Empire State Building, the Bay Bridge in California, and four bridges in Little Rock.