PSNH pitches in $40,000 for Portsmouth bridge lights
By GRETYL MACALASTER
Union Leader Correspondent
PORTSMOUTH - A large check from Public Service of New Hampshire pushed the Memorial Bridge Illumination Subcommittee past the halfway point in their $200,000 fundraising goal.
The subcommittee hopes to raise enough funds to illuminate the new Route 1 bridge connecting Portsmouth and Kittery, Maine, by the time it is completed in July.
The plan calls for down lighting of the two vertical spans, under-lighting of the center span when it is lifted and lowered and lighting of the memorial plaque.
On Tuesday, PSNH presented the committee with a $40,000 check to help the committee meet their goal. Subcommittee chairman Peter Somssich said that brings the total funds raised so far to just over $100,000, with much of it coming from small donations of under $1,000.
He said the subcommittee's hope is that other businesses will be encouraged to support the project as a result of PSNH's contribution.
At least $150,000 has to be pledged in order for the subcommittee to give the New Hampshire Department of Transportation the go-ahead to start working with the bridge contractor to get the project going. If they do not reach the final goal of $200,000, the center span will not be lit.
The project will use energy-efficient light-emitting diode lighting technology to illuminate various features of the new bridge, something that helped attract PSNH to the project.
PSNH division manager Rich Chagnon said the project will assist in promoting public awareness of using energy-efficient lighting to save resources and reduce energy costs.
The committee has estimated the operating costs of the lights, which will have color-changing capability, at less than $1,000 annually.
"We are pleased to be able to play a role in seeing that this exciting idea becomes a reality," Chagnon said.
Last Friday, one light was set up as a test on the south horizontal span of the bridge for about 40 minutes to see how the light played with the surface metal of the bridge. Somssich said the lighting vendor recently selected for the project, LumenPulse, has offered to do a public demonstration of how the lighting will look when the south tower is fully erected in March.
The illumination has been designed by John Powell, designer of the illumination of several bridges in Boston.
Information about the project is available at www.memoriabridgeproject.com
and at portsmouthbridges.com