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For decades, some of the most iconic images of our city have been our bridges. From our famous M-bridge -- that’s the ‘New Bridge’ -- to our tri-spans on the south end of Downtown, our connections to the west are often visitors’ first impressions of Memphis -- or a comforting ‘welcome back’ to Memphians returning from their travels.
I’m thrilled to formally announce today a plan that will make them even more iconic.
Yesterday, I signed a set of agreements that will allow for the installation of state-of-the-art lighting systems on the Big River Crossing Boardwalk on the Harahan Bridge. And, plans are underway for relighting the Hernando de Soto Bridge, whose existing lighting is reaching the end of its useful life and is in need of repair and replacement.
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.
We’re doing this thanks to the generosity -- the extraordinary generosity, really -- of citizens of our community who wish to remain anonymous. The private donors are in effect purchasing and donating to the community lighting and installation for the Big River Crossing Boardwalk on the Harahan Bridge and offering to purchase and donate lighting and installation for the Hernando de Soto Bridge.
That’s a $10 million donation just for lighting. In addition, they’re providing $1.5 million for maintenance, management and operation of the lighting, which will run for 15 years or more. They’re also providing additional funding for project engineers to oversee and manage the lights’ installation.
All told, their contribution is around $12 million, all for the benefit of our city.
Again, this lighting will come at zero cost to the city taxpayer.
All of Memphis should join me in thanking these donors today.
And when we say ‘state of the art’ about these lights, here’s what we mean: They’ll be programmable, 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, a leader in the field. Philips has designed and installed projects at the Empire State Building, the Bay Bridge in California, and four bridges in Little Rock.
It’s our hope to have the lighting of the Harahan ready by October 22. The lighting for the de Soto bridge will be completed at a later date.
Also give credit to the Downtown Memphis Commission, which has led the project; as well as Crittenden County Arkansas; the Union Pacific Railroad; and the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.
Terence Patterson, the president and CEO of the Downtown Memphis Commission, joined me at today's news conference. "This is an amazing opportunity to light up our city with world-class, state-of-the-art LED technology," Terence said. "Millions of people see this landmark icon. This is a highly visible gateway -- not just to Memphis and Shelby County, but to the entire state of Tennessee."
Here are a couple of renderings of the Harahan Bridge. This is what the bridge would normally look like when lit:
And this is what it could look like for a special event -- here's a red-white-and-blue theme, for example:
The lighting of these bridges will be a major positive step for our city’s image -- and a major positive step for the pride we all take in being Memphians. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating this today.