STILL IN THE DARK: Mississippi mayor hoping to light river bridges; lt. gov. expecting Louisiana to pay fair share – Magnolia State Live
STILL IN THE DARK: Mississippi mayor hopes to light up river bridges; according to reg. expects Louisiana to pay its fair share
Published Tuesday 31 January 2023 18:54
The mayors of Miss-Lou said they still lack the funds to light the two bridges connecting Natchez and Vidalia, Louisiana, but they hope to get at least a fraction of what it will cost.
Last year, the city of Natchez announced a proposal for state and federal leaders to illuminate the bridges with colorful lights that would pulse to music — but plans have since changed.
While this would have been entertaining for the thousands of tourists and residents enjoying the view from the Vidalia Riverfront or Natchez Bluff, local and state guides just couldn’t justify the price. The colored animated lights would have cost almost 6 million dollars.
Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said urgent issues take precedence.
“We are focused on many other issues,” Gibson said, “improvements to our airport and solving drainage issues in Natchez, both of which require federal funding.”
In April 2022, the Mississippi legislature allocated $500,000 to help light the Natchez-Vidalia bridges. Lt. However, Governor Delbert Hosemann has said he expects Louisiana to achieve at least the same.
“Lighting up the bridge as it was, with the white light, is still a multi-million dollar project,” Gibson said. “Given the limited resources we have at our disposal, we are now thinking outside the box and are looking at new and very creative strategies for lighting the bridges within a $1 million budget. Of course it won’t be like in the past because we have to work within the given budget, but we’re not giving up.”
The bridges have been dark since before 2018 when the Mississippi Department of Transportation removed the lights to work on the bridges. At the time, MDOT officials said they found the lights they removed were damaged and too costly to repair.
When the lighting was first installed beginning in 2009, the agreement between MDOT and the state of Louisiana stipulated that Mississippi would provide MDOT for service and maintenance of the lighting system and Louisiana would pay for electricity through the City of Vidalia’s ownership of the Louisiana Hydroelectric Plant.
With new ships cruising the Mississippi and calling at ports of call in Natchez and Vidalia, Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said he hoped Louisiana leaders would help pave the way.
“I’m meeting with our governor (John Bel Edwards) on Wednesday, and I’ve already met with Billy Nungesser, our lieutenant governor,” Craft said when announcing the upcoming christening of the American Serenade in April.
“He’ll be back for the Lt. Running for governor, which is good news because he’s very supportive of helping us get Louisiana to take our share (to fund) the bridge lights,” he said. “It’s going to be huge. Every win is a win for all of us.”