This fall, “Mighty Lights” will bring a new LED lighting system to the Hernando de Soto Bridge.
If you’ve been down to the river any evening over the past year and a half, you may have gotten to see the LED lights flashing across the Big River Crossing. In addition to garnering international awards and recognition, this display has grown into a popular local attraction, racking up over 300,000 visitors since its unveiling in October of 2016.
Although the Big River Crossing continues to grow in popularity, its reputation is still dwarfed by that of the Hernando de Soto, or “M,” Bridge. A true Memphis icon, the famous structure has arched proudly over the Mississippi River for nearly half a century. Meanwhile, its bright bulbs have gleamed over the river since their original installation in 1986. Over thirty years later, however, the original lighting infrastructure is in need of replacement, and Memphis Bridge Lighting, Inc. has seized the opportunity for innovation just in time for the city’s bicentennial celebration next year.
That’s cool, but who’s paying for this?
The same non-profit responsible for the Big River Crossing display, Memphis Bridge Lighting, Inc. is a privately funded organization which has designated its work on both bridges as a gift to the city. The organization recently announced its decision to construct a brand new Philips LED lighting display on the Hernando de Soto Bridge this summer, replacing the outdated bulbs currently adorning the bridge. Once the new LED lights are installed, the Mighty Lights program will synchronize and coordinate the lights between both bridges, creating a bookend effect on either end of the river and framing the downtown area with colorful illumination. Both of Memphis’ historic bridges will cast the same dramatic display of colors and patterns across the water, creating a breathtaking visual experience for locals and visitors alike.
This free and one-of-a-kind attraction is for all of Memphis,” said George Monger, Memphis Bridge Lighting, Inc. board member. “We believe that Mighty Lights will become a point of pride for all Memphians, as everyone will have equal access to enjoy it. It is our goal that this new nightly experience will help to positively define the future of Memphis on a local, national and global scale.
How does this affect my daily commute?
Unfortunately, nothing this good ever came easily, so get ready for some traffic. Construction began on June 4th, and two westbound lanes of I-40 will be closed from 6am-6pm until July 14th to accommodate the work. From July 16th to August 25th, parallel closures will occur on the eastbound side of the bridge, from 6am-6pm, Mondays-Saturdays.
It’ll all be worth it, however, at the new lights’ grand reveal after sundown on October 27th, in conjunction with River Arts Fest. River Arts will offer free admission after 5pm, so come on down to Riverside Drive to support local vendors and witness the first ever Mighty Lights display!