When it comes to lighting one up, best to be careful what you wish for, lest politicians bogart the joint.


I’ll freely admit there are times when I just plain don’t get it on a personal level, and this bridge lighting and decorating idea is one of those times.

Note that I fully respect the viewpoint of proponents. Good luck in your efforts. Rock on. At this precise moment I’m not boarding that train, merely regretting we have no trains to board. However, I’m not above buying popcorn, having a seat in the bleachers and being a spectator. Maybe I’ll change my mind. 

IT’S LIT: New Albany residents push for decorative lighting on Sherman Minton Bridge, by John Boyle (League of Tom May Voters)

NEW ALBANY — In the coming years, the Sherman Minton Bridge will get a facelift in the form of a major renewal project.

The rehabilitation will cost anywhere from $90 million to $105 million, with an expected start date in early 2021. How the timeline of the project will look is still up the air, as Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) officials are still in the process of deciding whether to move forward with a full closure or a partial closure.

While the looming prospect of impeding traffic flow on the major artery in any capacity is cause for concern to some residents and business owners, others are looking at the possibilities in a more creative light. This week, a Facebook page called “Light the Sherman” was launched, attracting over 200 likes in the few days it’s been active.

The move appears to have been inspired by the Sherman Minton’s sister bridge, the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis, Tenn. While that bridge shares a similar design, there is one obvious difference — it has decorative lighting, similar to that found on the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville.

The idea has gotten quite a bit of attention on social media, with the page organizers calling on people to convince local members of Congress to allocate money for the installation …

Although I remain open to persuasion, bridge lighting strikes me as a want, as opposed to a need. It’s also a distraction from other more genuine needs.

I believe any money generated to pay for creatively lighting the Sherman Minton bridge — by the way, where exactly is this money coming from? — would be better spent scattered among numerous enhancement projects along the waterfront, rather then illuminating it from above like a gaudy billboard (see photo above).

To me, this is another example of the One Big Grandiose Project syndrome, rather than the two dozen smaller projects actually impelled by participatory grassroots partnerships, with the problem being that OBGPs tend to move with lightning speed away from the grassroots, and into the hands of usual design suspects like HWC Engineering or their bridge lighting equivalents.

The result usually is generic pay-to-play pablum like baseball Hall of Famer Jim “Do You Know I Live in Carmel?” Rice’s HWC Market Street Mussolini tribute.

In this vein, tourism’s Russell Goodwin makes a very good point in the newspaper article.

Studies have shown that such aesthetic ventures do often translate into more visitors and money spent by them in the local economy. Russell Goodwin of SoIN Tourism said the key factor is collaboration and communication between project officials and local stakeholders, such as residents and business owners.

Let’s not forget the templates and schemata of “collaborative” public input meetings in New Gahania …

Joshua Poe explains how those “public input” meetings are kept meaningless to maintain pre-determined outcomes.

As noted: I’m open to a rethink.

Until the evidence is mustered, I’m sticking to the imperative of many small improvements rather than one big one — and don’t use the Big Four in Jeffersonville as a counter-example, because it’s the “big project” exception that proves the rule.

The Big Four Bridge is all about function as a non-automotive mobility device, and this function would remain completely intact without lighting (which cost more than $2 million) or the dreadfully redundant and intrusive classical music playing halfway across.

The Big Four’s logic is applicable not to the Sherman Minton, but the K & I. That’s the mobility project in need of prioritization.

Nationalize that mutha, now. I bet President Sanders will.