Bridge lighting test slated for April

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — The aesthetic bridge lighting project across the Mississippi River should be completed and ready for testing by mid-April, Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Butch Brown said.

“When we get to that point when we can test it, we are going to set a lighting date, and we will do that in conjunction with our friends and partners across the river in Vidalia and with the State of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development,” Brown said.

MDOT has taken the lead in the bridge lighting project because the Mississippi River Bridge at Natchez is under Mississippi jurisdiction, but the Louisiana DOTD has contributed to the project and the City of Vidalia will provide electricity to the bridge lights when it is finished.

The outline of the bridge, as well as the roadway, will be lit, making it visible at night.

“It as been my dream and (Vidalia Mayor) Hyram Copeland’s dream to use the bridge lighting project to remove the barrier between the cities of Natchez and Vidalia and consider it one big downtown street,” Brown said. “We want to have a united economy for political, regional and recreational purposes.”

Copeland said he believes the bridge lighting project will serve as a positive feature on the landscape for tourism.

“This is another project that Natchez and Vidalia have worked together to accomplish, and I am looking forward to there being many, many more in the future,” Copeland said.

“I think (the bridge lighting project) will be a tremendous asset to the entire Miss-Lou area.”

Once the project is ready for testing, MDOT will start doing it quietly, Brown said.

“We will test circuitry, bulbs — and all of that gets done on a new bridge,” Brown said.

“It takes a few days, maybe a few weeks, to get the glitches out and make sure the circuits are tight and switches are right. We won’t have any hullabaloo about the testing, but somebody might see the lights come on for a minute and then go right back off.”

The final lighting will be accompanied by some kind of official ceremony, Brown said.

The bid for the project was awarded to Infra Source Underground in Illinois for $3 million.