Photos by Tanner+West
The Owensboro Bridge has been creating a buzz of excitement this holiday season with its vibrant color schemes and designs. With over 500 LED-like lights, the $1.9 million dollar project was celebrated through a dazzling light display in November that was moved to a virtual event, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions. Still, some attended in person so they could experience the newly-lit bridge firsthand.
Since the lights came on, many locals and out-of-towners have visited downtown to take pictures with the color patterns and designs that are programmed to change weekly for now.
The late David Edds originally approached the city with an idea for pendant lights at the top of the blue bridge, and he spearheaded the relighting project for several years, right up until his passing.
“It really was a true passion,” said Assistant City Manager Lelan Hancock. “His boys got to be the ones to light the bridge [with the Mayor] and pay tribute to him.”
The lights on the bridge have been off for seven years after a fatality occurred when the bridge was being repainted, but City officials made the relighting a priority in recent years, and had hoped to have it lit by the end of 2019. But permits, litigation and other setbacks, including delays because of the pandemic, pushed it back almost a year.
Hancock said that Mother Nature did not help, but once the rains stopped, production level picked up and the engineering team, inspectors and those with “boots on the ground” were able to execute a plan.
“Many people have been waiting for it for so many years,” said City of Owensboro Public Events Director Tim Ross. “It seems to be really appreciated by our community.”
The lighting schemes have the capability to be solid or a pattern, then have fluid motion to light up the downtown landscape. They can also coordinate with the lighting at the downtown parking garage and the Owensboro Convention Center. Ross said they are able to create programming for effects set to music, much like the fireworks display that Owensboro experienced in July 2020.
“We have several ideas down the road,” Ross said.
Hancock said that he has always been excited about relighting the bridge, and once the community saw the end result, there have been many positive comments and photos of people visiting the renovated downtown and then posting their photos to social media.
“They are just overwhelmed seeing it,” he said.
The bridge, often referred to as the “Blue Bridge,” is also known as the “Glover H. Cary Bridge,” in honor of the Owensboro congressman who helped arrange the financing for the project. But the official name is the “Owensboro Bridge.” While the entrance has a plaque that says the bridge is “Dedicated to the Memory of Glover H. Cary,” the name was never officially changed. Most people also may not know that the Owensboro Bridge originally opened as a toll bridge in 1940. Dr. Dan M. Griffith, an Owensboro physician, had the honor of paying the first toll on the bridge when it opened in 1940 and the last toll right before it became toll-free at 12:01 a.m. on August 18, 1954.