The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners approved $50,000 to help pay for accent lighting under the arches of the Stone Arch Bridge, the project's second-largest donation so far.
Jay Cowles, co-chair of the Friends of the Minneapolis Riverfront, said the group is still $100,000 short of the $412,000 goal to pay for lighting and five years' operation and maintenance. The group formed earlier this year to spearhead the lighting project.
The Stone Arch Bridge is a riverfront icon, linking the east and west banks of the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Area.
The Friends group began fund-raising in March and initially planned to light the bridge in time for this year's July 4 Grand Excursion, a celebration to mark the 150-year anniversary of the Grand Excursion of 1854 (a confab of national dignitaries that included President Millard Fillmore.)
The July 4 timeline was too ambitious, given the extensive approval processes, Cowles said. The Minnesota Department of Transportation owns the bridge and needs to approve the lighting design, as does the U.S. Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers, the State Historic Preservation Office, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, and the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission.
Cowles said the Friends group now hopes to finish fund-raising by year's end and turn on the lights next spring.
However, the Friends has no other large grant applications pending, he said. The group will talk to neighborhood associations and businesses and individuals "who are most interested in seeing that stretch of riverfront continue to come alive," Cowles said.
"The enthusiasm for it is very strong," he added. "We are confident we will complete the fund-raising in good style."
Xcel Energy gave $100,000 for the project, the largest donation to date.
People interested in supporting the project may send contributions to Friends of the Minneapolis Riverfront, 123 N. 3rd St., No. 804, Minneapolis, MN 55401.