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November 22. 2012 8:18PM

Illumination plan for Memorial Bridge begins with fundraising campaign

PORTSMOUTH - A community campaign has been launched to try to raise $60,000, to start, for the illumination of the new Memorial Bridge.

Members of the illumination subcommittee of the Memorial Bridge Community Involvement Committee announced that they are raising a total of $80,000 to illuminate the bridge and make it a night-time attraction in addition to being a daytime icon for the Seacoast.

Fundraising is taking part in two phases, with the first being a goal of $60,000 in pledges. When that goal has been reached, the committee will work with the Portsmouth Historical Society to collect the pledges and fund the actual installation of the illumination.

The illumination plan is compliant with New Hampshire's Dark Skies initiative and will accent the towers, piers and memorial plaques on the bridge. It is being designed by John Powell, who also designed the illumination of the bridges crossing the Charles River between Boston and Cambridge, Mass.

Both the Portsmouth City Council and the Kittery Town Council have given the plan their blessing. The Portsmouth City Council also voted unanimously to create a trust for the illumination project funds.

"I am very excited about it," Portsmouth Mayor Eric Spear said. "I think the new bridge has a lot of innovative concepts but still respects our historical traditions and I'd like for people to see it, especially in the winter when it gets dark at 4:30."

He said lighting up the bridge will also reinforce a sense of pride and a sense of place for Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Spear grew up near Washington, D.C., and said when visitors came to town his family would always take them through the nation's capital at night, to see the buildings and monuments lit up.

"So I've always had an affinity for that type of presentation," Spear said.

He said the fact that the illumination project is a community effort reflects that people on both sides of the river want to participate in bettering their communities.

"I cannot think of a downside to this. It's full of win. It has more win than Charlie Sheen," Spear said.

Spear said the annual electrical costs for the project will be modest and shared between Portsmouth and Kittery.

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Gretyl Macalaster may be reached at gmacalaster@newstote.com.


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