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Mulhern urges care in approval of bridge-lighting project

TAMPA — A plan to light up Tampa bridges in time for the Republican National Convention hit a snag at Thursday's City Council meeting.

Mary Mulhern likes the idea and said so.

But when council members were asked to expedite a vote on funding, Mulhern protested and urged them to follow normal protocol.

"I didn't know anything about this until I read it in the paper," she said. "I don't feel that I'm able to really do my job as a council member appointed to a committee."

Lights on Tampa would permanently illuminate the Platt Street bridge, Brorein Street bridge, Kennedy Boulevard bridge and either the CSX railroad bridge or the Cass Street bridge every night.

The council heard from Robin Nigh, city manager for arts programs, and Santiago Corrada, city chief of staff.

The two tried to get members to approve funding for the program right away so that the artist could begin work as soon as possible.

Tampa Electric and TECO Peoples Gas have already committed to contribute more than $300,000 to the project.

The city's share would be $30,000.

Mulhern was particularly perturbed because, even as the council's delegate to the public art committee, she hadn't been briefed on the latest developments in the bridge illumination program.

But she also wants to make sure she and other council members have adequate information before proceeding.

"I think there was plenty of time to get it on here over the past couple of weeks," Mulhern said. "Then we could have had it on the agenda today so that we would have had an opportunity to actually know what exactly we're voting on."

While plans to work with the artist have been in the making for years, the project only recently obtained funding, Nigh said.

The council agreed to continue the discussion until Thursday.

Staff writer Elizabeth Leva can be reached at (813) 226-3321 or eleva@tampabay.com.

Mulhern urges care in approval of bridge-lighting project 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 10:43pm]
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