States are lighting the way

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 16, 2010

Lighting can make a world of a difference in the eyes of a beholder.

A beautiful woman can look homely in an unflattering police mug shot.

An average-looking person can look like a superstar at one of those glamour photography places.

Aging TV interviewer Barbara Walters always appears “soft” looking on the theory being that she’ll look better with soft light and a slightly fuzzy focus.

But lighting can also reveal interesting, even unseen things. Forensic scientists, for example, use UV light, along with special chemicals, to see things difficult to see with the naked eye.

Light can also add drama to a scene, such as in theatrical performances.

Our community has caught glimpses of all of those things — beauty, drama and previously unforeseen things — over the last several days, all thanks to some new lights.

For years, leaders in our area have dreamed about lighting up the two spans over the Mississippi River.

That dream has become a reality thanks to something that’s been talked about a lot over the last few years — regionalism.

A partnership led by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and including the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and the City of Vidalia will truly help bridge the Miss-Lou and help regionalism shine.

Over the last week or so, segments of the bridges have been lit sporadically as crews test the wiring and circuits in preparation for finalizing the $3 million project.

Friday night, both bridges were lit up almost entirely giving passersby a good preview of the final look.

The bridges look great illuminated. Of course, the bridges are cool looking during the daylight hours, but at night the lighting makes the bridges almost glow.

As the main connector in the Miss-Lou, the bridges deserve special attention.

In addition to the physical structure of the bridges, the lights also illuminate the swirling, dark waters of the Mississippi River, too.

The lighting certainly adds much-needed, nighttime beautification to the already gorgeous views of the river we enjoy during the daytime.

But just like theatrical lighting, the bridge illumination also seems to add a sense of drama to the bridges. Since the light is emitted from below the road level and aims skyward, the light soars high into the sky making the bridges seem taller and more majestic than they really are.

But beyond the obvious effects, the new lights seem to indicate, a much more important, much more long lasting change.

The bridge lighting project serves as a great example of how our region can work together.

Former Natchez Mayor and current MDOT executive director Larry L. “ Butch” Brown said it best in a news article.

“It has 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.”

Not surprisingly, Copeland said he couldn’t agree more.

“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.”

Both men understand community development and how a little light can bring the community together and show off our beauty.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or