Stone Arch lighting project advances

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March 7, 2005 // UPDATED 1:52 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Adding decorative accent lighting to the Stone Arch Bridge arches is going to be easier than city leaders first thought.

Deputy Mayor David Fey said the original wiring plan called for boring holes from the bridge top to the arches, a process called "core drilling." Said Fey, "We managed to figure out how to get the wiring to the lights through some existing drainage pipes that are already in the structure."

Project planners are working on a new budget and timeline, and small details, such as what kind of anchors to use to hold the lights in place. Fey said, "it is safe to say we hope to flip the switch this summer."

The $412,000 project is being paid for with a mix of public and private funds. Stone Arch lighting fund-raising co-chairs Jay Cowles and Charlie Zelle had raised more than $320,000, including $100,000 from Xcel Energy. Hennepin County has kicked in $50,000.

Interest in the project grew in 2004. Organizers hoped to have the bridge lit just prior to the July 4 riverfront fireworks, as part of the Grand Excursion celebration.

The timeline proved too ambitious, given the extensive approval processes, organizers 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.

Zelle said fund-raising efforts were put on hold while planners worked out historical preservation and construction details. They will resume fund-raising once firm bids are in hand.

"We have confidence at this point we have enough funds and interest to complete our fund-raising," he said.

The budget should decrease, given the core drilling's elimination, Fey said.