Testing of year-round aesthetic lighting display on Tilikum Crossing starts Thursday

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Lighting showcases design features of the cable-stay bridge and reflects activity in the Willamette River

Starting Thursday night, a second test of the aesthetic lighting on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People will take place. It will test the full spectrum of colors and the subtle motion that will change with the seasons and the activity of the Willamette River.

Next phase of aesthetic lighting testing on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People takes place starting Thursday night

Next phase of aesthetic lighting testing on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People takes place starting Thursday night

Dec. 4-6
On Thursday through Saturday, testing of the full aesthetic lighting system will take place from approximately 6 p.m. to midnight. Some initial testing of the lighting on the landside abutments and tower pylons will occur on Wednesday night.

See the lights!
The aesthetic lighting was created by artists Douglas Hollis and the late Anna Valentina Murch for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s Public Art Program. The public can view the lights from both sides of the Willamette River near the bridge, with easy access at SE Caruthers Plaza on the east bank of the river.

In October, the first test of the 178 LED lights focused on light placement on the 40 bridge cables, the four tower pylons above and below the deck, and the two landside abutments. The December test will allow the artist to fine tune the lighting program that translates the seasons into subtle color and motion changes based on the natural conditions of the Willamette River. Once the commissioning of the lights is complete, the lights will be turned off until September 2015.

How the lighting system works
The lighting system will change colors according to data streamed from a U.S. Geological Service river monitor near the Morrison Bridge. The lighting effects will change based on the river’s speed, height and water temperature. Lighting programmer Morgan Barnard designed specialized software that reads the data from the river and translates it into the movement of color and light across the bridge.

The base colors will be determined by the water temperature. The speed of the river controls the pace at which the colors change and move across the bridge. The height of the river is displayed by a secondary color moving vertically up and down the pylons and cables. These river characteristics are a dynamic system, with large changes over the course of the seasons and smaller fluctuations that occur constantly throughout the day. LED lights are five times more energy efficient than conventional metal Halide lights and last up to 16 times longer with far less degradation of lighting output.

In addition to the aesthetic lighting, the bridge has aviation and river transport navigational lighting, as well as functional lighting for bridge use during nighttime hours.

About the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project
The 7.3-mile project is the region’s sixth MAX construction project and will improve transit in this corridor that extends from the terminus of the MAX Green and Yellow lines at Portland State University in Downtown Portland to South Waterfront, SE Portland, Milwaukie and North Clackamas County. About the project:

  • 3 miles
  • 10 stations
  • The first of its kind multi-modal bridge in the U.S. will carry light rail and streetcar trains, buses, bicyclists and pedestrians, but no private vehicles.
  • Opens Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015
  • Expands the MAX system to 60 miles and 97 stations  

Project partners
The Federal Transit Administration, State of Oregon, Clackamas County, Metro, City of Milwaukie, Multnomah County, City of Oregon City, Oregon Department of Transportation, City of Portland, Portland Development Commission and TriMet.