Owensboro will see the community’s iconic “Blue Bridge” in a new light in 2019. According to City Manager Nate Pagan, design for new lighting on the bridge is about to begin with final plans ready by the end of the year.
The City has already secured the encroachment permit from the Kentucky Department of Transportation, Pagan said, which allows the City to actually install the lights on the bridge. If all goes according to plan, Pagan said the project should be ready to bid by spring or early summer of 2019.
“This is a top-tier priority for the City,” Pagan said. “We will move forward with this in 2019.”
Pagan said the City hopes to have colored, programmable LED lights, which will have a longer lifespan and reduced maintenance. These lights will also allow the City to coordinate the lighting with events and holidays — green and red lights at Christmas or red white and blue at Independence Day.
Lights on the bridge were turned off permanently in 2013 after an accident during the bridge repainting resulted in the electrocution and death of a contracted painter, according to City Attorney Steve Lynn.
Lynn said the existing lights on the bridge have been in place for more than 20 years.
“Electrical codes have changed several times since then,” Lynn said.
The family of the painter, who was from Texas, filed a wrongful death suit against the City, which was settled by insurance attorneys earlier this year for $800,000. During the time of the wrongful death case and finalization of the legal settlement, no work could be done to relight the bridge. A final order came from a Texas court last month, allowing the City to move forward with the relighting project.
Pagan said this is solely a City-funded project, with no money allocated from the state in relighting the bridge. Pagan was unable to offer an estimated cost for the project until designs and contracts are finalized.