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Missoula-based group aims to light up Missoula bridges

By Donovan Hill, KTVM Reporter, dhill@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 30 2013 04:47:39 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 30 2013 06:52:03 PM MST
Missoula Bridges
Missoula, Mont. -

Bridges in Missoula could be getting an illuminated makeover in the near future.

The Light Our Bridges group is a project that hopes to transform Missoula bridges into different types of art by installing lights alongside the bridges.

For most Missoulians getting across the Clark Fork River is a simple thing. But for one group the way you get to the other side should be celebrated in a form of visual arts. That's why some residents want to change bridges like the Van Buren Street pedestrian bridge.

"Initially I had thought 'That sounds cool, let's light a bridge' but then we've had this outcry from people who have raised some really valid concerns," said Missoula City Council member Caitlin Copple.

"People have raised concerns about wildlife, and the environment, the fish, bats, bugs, all of these issues. We need to pose good questions and we need to get good answers," added Missoula resident Geoff Badenoch.

Another concern lies within the proposal, which states that the lights could be set to flash or blink in patterns.

Some residents believe this could be a distraction to motorists or an annoyance to homeowners in the area.

"I think every aspect of the lighting of the bridge proposal needs to be questioned. People and citizens have raised issues about the flashing lights; people have imagined that it will be something like Las Vegas," said Badenoch.

"We make sure Missoula remains Missoula, and can still hop a cheap flight to Las Vegas but we don't have Las Vegas in our downtown," added Copple.

Lighting the two bridges is estimated at $200,000 and the group says it doesn't intend to ask for money from the public.

No one's sure what maintaining the lights will cost, but the city would cover the bill for that each year.

"People wanting to make sure the city is spending its money wisely, which I agree with, so I think that the jury is still out on what we're going to do with this but I’m excited to learn more and see where it's going to go," concluded Copple.

Supporters of the project hope to know more in the next couple of weeks. Until then, getting from one side of the river to the other will stay just like it is.