MUSCATINE — After two years, lights may soon be returning to the historic Norbert F. Beckey Bridge.
On Monday, August 31, the bridge was limited to one lane of traffic as the replacing of lighting began.
According to the Department of Public Works, MUSCO Lighting will add temporary stop lights to the bridge to help direct traffic during this process. Jim Berns, international engineering manager for MUSCO Lighting, says the lights should be working by the latter half of September. “That’s the plan, anyway,” he said.
People may remember the multi-colored lights of the Beckey Bridge, first installed in 2008, that were said to be able to display 16.7 million different color combinations. They were permanently damaged when the bridge was painted in 2017.
“There was quite a bit of damage done after the painting project,” Berns said. “We made some attempts to repair the existing fixtures, but it just got to the point where it was kind of an exercise in futility.”
Berns, who worked on the original project, was happy to return to the project. He said MUSCO Lighting is donating the lights to the city.
“When the bridge was originally lit, our product line didn’t really support the color changing,” he said, “We didn’t have any color changing light fixtures, and over the past several years as many of our projects have transitioned to using LED light sources… and so we began developing some of those products and eventually came up with one that works well.”
“So we just made the decision that it would be a good showcase for the product while also being close to home so we could monitor it," Berns said.
Because of the LED technology, the new lights are much brighter as well as more colorful. “In terms of the amount of light per unit of energy that you consume, that has continued to improve,” Berns said. “So the bridge is going to be brighter than it has been in the past, and our ability to control the light and get it to where we want it to go will certainly enhance that as well.”
Berns said the bridge is a landmark and an icon in Muscatine.
“We were kind of on the cutting edge of what the technology was able to do at the time, and we were pushing the envelope, if you want to call it that,” he said, “But over the course of the last 12 years or so, I’m kind of amazed at the people that still comment on (the bridge), and so we kind of felt that we would hate to lose that, so we decided to move forward with replacing them with our fixtures.”