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BRIDGE LIGHTING PLAN APPROVED

The Oregon Department of Transportation has engineered and approved blueprints to install lights on the B.A. Dot Martin Bridge, but the financially-strapped agency is leaving it to others to pay for the project.

Its going to take private implementation, but I will do anything I can to help get it done, said Lee Sparks, assistant District 7 manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in Roseburg.

Maybe the Port of Brookings Harbor and the city of Brookings can form a partnership to get it done, Sparks said. Or perhaps they will receive a donation like the one given for the skate park.

Sparks was approached by city and port officials more than two years ago about the possibility of installing lights on the bridge. Port and city officials were concerned about public safety.

Port Manager Russ Crabtree said lighting the bridge is necessary because the bridge will be part of a planned bike path connecting the port to the city.

Initial studies did not meet ODOT criteria, according to Sparks.

The bridges history of accidents and traffic counts were not enough to warrant the project, he said.

But Sparks pressed on, eventually convincing his agency to have an engineer design plans that someone else could follow.

I nagged them, he said. I tried to represent the community zealously to get something done.

Originally, port and city officials hoped to attach donated light fixtures to existing pedestals on the bridge. However, an ODOT study determined that could not be done and still meet todays stringent building codes, Sparks said.

Instead, ODOT engineers have designed a plan that calls for installing nine new poles along the bridge in an alternating pattern. Sparks estimated the cost of the project at $250,000.

At least we know now that we can do something, Crabtree said about ODOTs blueprints. Now its a matter of forming a partnership with ODOT and the city to secure funding.

He said he will ask ODOT what, if any, supplies and labor it may be able to provide to install the lighting. The port and city will likely share the costs, and seek outside funding, such as grants, to fill any gap.

Brookings City Manager Leroy Blodgett said getting the money will be the biggest obstacle to completing the project.

Well move forward on it, doing what we can, but the city just doesnt have that kind of money lying around, he said.

Blodgett was impressed with Sparks efforts so far. Hes great. Hes done well pursuing this project.

While lights on the bridge will improve public safety, Blodgett said they will have an aesthetic benefit as well. The lighting will make the bridge look real good.

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