Contact: Jodi Wheatley   Phone: (254) 867-2836

Bridge Lights Help Unite Community, Strengthen Waco-Baylor-TxDOT Partnership

In a historic symbol of unity, representatives from TxDOT, the city of Waco and Baylor University helped flip the switch on the lighting system for the two signature Brazos River bridges on Tuesday, June 2. The bridge lighting ceremony was attended by hundreds of residents who celebrated with audible oohs and ahhs when the first lights were turned on, revealing magnificent green and gold bridges that lit up Waco's skyline.

"People are going to say ‘Have you seen those bridges, have you seen those lights?'" Judge Ken Starr, Baylor president and chancellor, said minutes earlier, anticipating viewers' reactions to others about Waco's prominent new centerpiece.

Baylor University decided to join the plan put forward by TxDOT and the city of Waco for a bridge lighting system with additional funding of more than $500,000. It allowed for the system included in the construction plans to be upgraded to a state-of-the-art, programmable system containing more than 200 lighting fixtures and 800 lights that can be individually controlled with color and intensity.

  This aerial image, shot from a drone passing overhead, shows both the artistry and utility in the new Brazos River bridges.  

"What we see here tonight is the culmination of so many working partnerships that prove the point that we are at the cusp of something great in Waco," Mayor Malcolm Duncan told the crowd. "This is a special project in the life of this community and we owe TxDOT a real big ‘Thank you!' for that. It is more than a spirt of partnership; it's a living, breathing partnership."

"I hope you enjoy the visual appeal and will be filled with community pride as the Brazos River and the nighttime Waco skyline continues to come to life," Bobby Littlefield, TxDOT's Waco District engineer, told the crowd.

  Lights on the bridges can be programmed with different colors to reflect special seasonal events.  

The ceremony was attended by most of the local media and was livestreamed by KCEN-TV on their website to the entire Waco region (view the video). The bridge lighting demonstration lasted for about five minutes, showing the system's various capabilities including the Baylor colors, numerous other color combinations and some of the lighting displays that will be used during holidays and special occasions.

Following the demonstration, the lighting system defaulted to a two-hour program that will run continuously throughout each night. The city of Waco has programming authority and is responsible for the maintenance of the system. A Bridge Lighting Committee has been formed and will decide how to use the system.

"The entire lighting ceremony was really an amazing event, and the most well-attended TxDOT function I've been a part of," I-35 Public Information Officer Jodi Wheatley, of TxDOT's Waco District, says. "In addition to providing safe and reliable transportation solutions, part of TxDOT's mission is to work with Texas communities. I think with this lighting system we were certainly able to do that."

Wheatley points out that the lights are also placed on the bridges' substructure, making them visible for pedestrians along the developing riverwalk.

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