Bridge lighting set for June 25

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 10, 2010

NATCHEZ — Now that the circuits have been tightened and the bulbs have been tested, the time has come to flick the switch on the Mississippi River Bridge — permanently.

A reception celebrating the project’s completion is set for 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 25, at the Vidalia Convention Center. A lighting ceremony will follow at 8:30 p.m., said Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Larry L. “Butch” Brown. Both events are open to public.

Brown confirmed Wednesday MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown and Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant are scheduled to attend. Gov. Haley Barbour will not be in attendance, citing a scheduling conflict.

Elected local and state officials from both Mississippi and Louisiana have been extended an invitation, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“It’s been a long time coming. We’ve worked on this thing for close to 16 years,” Brown said of the project.

Brown credited his colleagues, the State of Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and the City of Vidalia for their unwavering support.

“I have a partner in Vidalia, La., in (Mayor Hyram Copeland),” Brown said. “He’s been very supportive and outspoken in favor of the bridge lighting.”

Copeland, who also praised MDOT and Louisiana DOTD, said the City of Vidalia has fielded several phone calls about the bridge lighting in recent weeks.

“I think (the bridge lighting) will be a tremendous asset to our community, especially in the area of tourism,” Copeland said. “We’re just glad to be a part of it, and I think it’s something we’ll all be proud of.”

“The bridge itself will be beautiful, but the symbolism of uniting these two communities is what it’s all about,” Brown said. “We have been known as the Miss-Lou for many, many, years and the Miss-Lou indeed is our community.

“It’s not just the Mississippi River Bridge. It’s a bridge that joins two very vibrant communities that have a lot to offer our region.”