Back in the '90's it was known as the Neon Bridge. Then those bright tubes began going on the blink, and the city of Shreveport finally pulled the plug about four years ago.
Now the city's quietly trying to round up funds so it can flip the switch and re-light the landmark span.
A drive across the old steel truss Texas Street bridge is just like so many others now. But perhaps in a couple more years, the bridge will glow again as it did beginning New Year's 1994 as a bright, iconic landmark linking Shreveport-Bossier.
"This is something that we're doing in a cost effective way without taking dollars away from something else, but really adding them to something that can really inspire some pride, some hope," says City Councilman Jeff Everson, whose District B is home to the bridge.
The city of Shreveport has applied for a federal grant to re-light the old bridge. Not with neon lights that were problematic and a drain on the budget. Instead, LED lights would be the bright future, perhaps looking something like this rail and pedestrian bridge up the river in Memphis. The 100,000 LED lights on the Harahan Bridge produce hundreds of possible configurations and patterns from solid color displays to dynamic color shows that can be programmed for special events.
The grant was applied for through the city. But when asked for details, Pam Atchison, executive director at the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, said in an email, "Mayor Tyler has requested that we hold off as the case might be better stated until we learn of the grant progress in September. She is hopeful that the grant will be funded and she can make an announcement about the project at that time."
This would be a matching grant, meaning the city of Shreveport would need to come up with a million dollars of its own to make this happen. Fortunately, that's been taken care of with a wealthy benefactor.
We talked to that generous donor, who's pledging a million dollars toward the project. That donor wants to remain anonymous until the grant is formally approved.
But before a new lighting system can go in, this nearly 90 year old bridge is due for some major repairs -- $23 million worth.
Says DOTS spokeswoman Erin Buchanan, "There will be some structural repairs to the metal on the bridge. Some concrete repairs to the approaches. Joint removal and replacement on the bridge itself. An overlay on the deck itself."
DOTD will take bids in July. The bridgework would get underway later this year, and perhaps take a year to complete.
Then, work could begin for Shreveport-Bossier's next time to shine.
"Projects like this do help inspire pride in the community," Councilman Everson says. "It's something that I think can always help."
If the grant is approved, Everson says the city council would have to approve a budget amendment to give the project the green light. But he foresees no problems.
We understand there could be additional lighting effects extending from the bridge along Texas Street to the Shreveport Common arts district.