Pressure needed to get lighting state promised

If local officials are waiting for the Georgia Department of Transportation to illuminate the cable stays and north and south towers of the Sidney Lanier Bridge, then they best not be holding their breath. If they are, then they should expect to pass out, if they haven't already. It's been almost 10 years since the bridge opened to highway traffic and the cables remain unlighted.

The transportation department barely has enough funds to maintain smooth surfaces on major highways, let alone spend money on aesthetics in the Golden Isles, state officials have lamented.

The transportation department was once committed to the project. It even spent $50,000 on designing a special swing-out arm that would hold the fixtures that would illuminate the bridge. The department also expended funds, time and effort to show the Golden Isles what the structure would look like when illuminated. That was in 2005, when transportation officials were estimating a $500,000 cost to install the lighting system. Just four years later, in 2009, that cost jumped to almost $800,000, for some strange reason, and during a time contractors were desperate for work.

But all that is a moot point. Unlike the Talmadge Bridge at Savannah, the cable stays and towers of the Sidney Lanier Bridge will remain dark between sunset and sunrise.

That is, of course, unless the community can successfully apply enough pressure on the right individuals, the people who can get a project promised the Golden Isles done. Who knows how many motorists it would draw off Interstate 95 to places like Jekyll Island, the entrance of which is at the very southern foot of the bridge.

Some might argue that bathing the cables and towers of the Sidney Lanier Bridge in artificial daylight would be a poor use of funding during a time of austerity. Maybe. Maybe not. Put it in the same category as building a new stadium in Atlanta to replace the still-viable Georgia Dome - only unlike a new stadium, lighting up the Sidney Lanier Bridge was promised by the state years ago.