Luminous bridges celebrate a centennial
Special thanks to Entergy Arkansas, the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, the Clinton Foundation, and the Pulaski County Junction Bridge Authority.
Historically, Little Rock, Arkansas, has been known for a host of rich, natural resources — in particular, its navigable waterways. Back in the early 1800s — the formative years for Arkansas — these bodies acted as connective passageways for communities and commerce. Today, they are also the site of six bridges that provide pedestrians and cyclists safe, scenic pathways across the Arkansas River, and link Little Rock with North Little Rock. To celebrate Arkansas' dynamism — and commemorate 100 years in business — electric power provider Entergy Corporation and subsidiary Entergy Arkansas each donated US$1 million towards lighting a number of Little Rock's most significant structures. Their backing launched a state-wide project to illuminate the Junction, Clinton Presidential Park, and Main Street bridges with over 2,000 brilliant LED luminaires from Color Kinetics.
The project was an exercise in team work, with an array of organizations, including the cities of Little Rock and North Little Rock, the Clinton Foundation, and industrial electrical contractor Koontz Electric, joining forces with Color Kinetics and Entergy to fund, design, and execute the US$2.4 million project. The team's design goal was twofold: to beautify the city and spark community engagement. To accomplish this, the team needed high-quality, striking lights to enhance pedestrians' nighttime navigation and emphasize each bridge's distinctive architecture. Armed with an extensive selection of dynamic lighting fixtures from Color Kinetics and a clear strategy, the team set to work dressing each of the three bridges.
Erected as a railroad segment in 1899, the Junction Bridge has been repurposed in recent years to better serve the Little Rock community as an award-winning pedestrian and bicycle passageway. To highlight the 5 m (17 ft) wide bridge — the only previously-lit structure in the group — the team used revolutionary IntelliPower technology from Color Kinetics, which enabled them to deploy intelligent LED lighting using the structure's existing wiring and conduits. With this infrastructure in place, Koontz Electric began implementing the lights: a combination of ColorBlast Powercore and ColorReach Compact Powercore luminaires that pop against the light gray-painted steel structure.
Also constructed in 1899 as a railway bridge, the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge now constitutes the final stretch on the 23 km (14.2 mi) Arkansas River Trail, which stretches along the north and south banks of the Arkansas River. To illuminate the landmark bridge, which is part of former President Bill Clinton's homage to his hometown, the team installed a powerful collection of ColorBlast Powercore, ColorReach Powercore gen2, and ColorReach Compact Powercore luminaires throughout the structure.
Unlike its imposing counterparts, the Main Street Bridge is a humble concrete structure that was previously shrouded in complete darkness at night. Consequently, it served as the perfect canvas to showcase the vivid system of lights — an end-to-end stretch of ColorGraze MX Powercore luminaires — that now washes it in inviting hues.
The luminous bridges are powered with six Pharos controllers, which offer incredible versatility: They can be programmed to produce individualized light shows for each bridge, or synced with each other to create sweeping schemes across all three. The result is a diverse collection of gorgeous light schemes — including rich solid shades and multicolored patterns — which glint against the skyline and river. "Bridges remain our simplest metaphor for connectedness and uplifted civic space," said North Little Rock Mayor, Joe A. Smith. "It's great that we celebrate the illumination of these bridges by coming together because that was how this project was made possible."
The new schemes were unveiled just before Christmas 2013 during a dazzling event that featured a very special guest — former President Clinton himself — and a debut light show celebrating Arkansas' dynamic place within American history. "Bridges remain our simplest metaphor for connectedness and uplifted civic space," said North Little Rock Mayor, Joe A. Smith. "It's great that we celebrate the illumination of these bridges by coming together because that was how this project was made possible."
"This is a project that our citizens can be proud of," said Little Rock Mayor, Mark Stodola. "I trust it will be another draw for tourism and economic development to our great city."