Port commissioners approve $500K for phase two of artistic Coronado lighting project

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The board of the Port of San Diego has approved the next phase of a $10 million project to add artistic lighting to the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge. 

Upon completion, the bridge could be the largest public art display in the region. On Tuesday, port commissioners approved more than $480,000 for phase two, in which British artist Peter Fink will fine-tune his design, with community input.

Some of the money will also go to Caltrans, which owns the span, to review the design and prepare the environmental and coastal documents that are required.

The project was first conceived in 2006 but stalled because of the downturn in the economy. Port Commissioner Marshall Merrifield who helped to revive the project last year said the funding will not require taxpayer dollars but will be raised through private donations.

Merrifield said in the last few months, he has collected more than $1 million in cash and pledges.

“It’s been a wonderful response to see businesses and people around town step up to support this,” the commissioner said.

Yvonne Wise, the Port’s curator of public art said the Port initially looked at a number of bayside locations, described by Wise as ”kind of a land space to install a monumental artwork.”  

Those efforts were later abandoned.

“We knew that just wasn’t right because we wanted the artwork to be visible from the five port cities as well, something that would be an artwork for the entire region. It was a wonderful surprise when the committee stumbled upon the opportunity to light the bridge," Wise said.

The LED lights on the roadway and bridge supports will be in different colors and vary according to how they’re programmed.

“What we can expect is the lighting is not going to be static. It’s going to be dynamic and changing at different times of the year,” Wise said. "The design also calls for the lights to run through solar power." 

According to Merrifield,  “This will be the first artistically lit building or bridge in the United States that’s sustainably powered.”

The Port is inviting public participation in the lighting project. It will be hosting a series of community meetings to help the artistic team gather more design ideas from the public.

“The color palette is infinite,” Wise said. "Peter (the artist) is going to come up with a lighting scenario by working with the community.”

Merrifield said a GoFundMe page is being developed to encourage online donations. The Port wants to have the lighting ready by the end of 2019, in time to mark the bridge’s 50th birthday.

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