Article from WPMI, Channel 15
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WPMI) — A grassroots effort is underway to add multi-million-dollar LED lighting to one of Baldwin County’s most iconic beachfront bridges.
The Perdido Pass Bridge towers over one of the most beautiful boating and swimming destinations on the Gulf Coast. A group of Orange Beach residents is determined to make it stand out even when the sun goes down.
The Perdido Pass Bridge Lighting Project is a non-profit organization working with ALDOT, the city of Orange Beach, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to meet strict requirements.
“What disappears at night that’s iconic in Orange Beach? It’s that bridge. In the daytime, it’s so unique. It’s got an elevated curve in it, and so the idea came as to lighting it up,” said Tom Clark, with the Perdido Pass Bridge Lighting Project.
Clark said the group is moving forward with fundraising for the LED project at an estimated cost of at least $2 million.
“You’ll have 18,000 combinations of color to utilize, for example, during the Fourth of July. So far we have an overwhelming response. We have a tremendous amount of business owner excitement,” Clark said.
Clark believes it will not only stir up local excitement, but will provide an extra boost to tourism. But there are concerns.
“My concern is May 1 to October 31. That’s when sea turtles are coming in to nest,” said Shannon Holbrook, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
During that time, Holbrook wants the group to use amber lights, which are less harmful to our protected sea turtle neighbors.
“If you light up the horizon, it confuses them, and they get disoriented. They either don’t come out to nest or, with the hatchlings, they’re either going to be eaten by a predator or they’re just going to run out of energy and die,” Holbrook said.
Clark says they’re also looking into solar powered technology and hope to have the project in place by 2023.
“It’s not going to be overpowering, intrusive, or blinding. We’ll be able to easy flip to turtle-compliant amber lighting with the structure that we have,” Clark said.
If you’re interested in learning more or donating toward the project, you can go to lightourbridge.com.