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Four Tampa bridges to be illuminated in time for Republican National Convention

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Published Jan. 27, 2012

TAMPA — After a week's delay, the Tampa City Council on Thursday voted to light up four downtown bridges in time for the Republican National Convention in August.

Council members unanimously approved an agreement with artist Tracey Dear to illuminate the Platt Street bridge, Brorein Street bridge, Kennedy Boulevard bridge and either the CSX railroad or Cass Street bridge.

"I'm very excited about this project, and it's going to do marvelous things for downtown," council member Harry Cohen said.

That said, Cohen wanted to know who will pay for the power.

"We will be responsible for those costs," city chief of staff Santiago Corrada said.

Dear will give the city an estimate for the ongoing maintenance, but Corrada said lighting technology has changed a lot since Dear gained fame in 1999 for illuminating Chicago's bridges.

"The costs of maintenance, replacement and electricity have come way down," he said.

The city will pay Dear $30,000 to design the project, which is being done through the Lights on Tampa public arts program. Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas are contributing more than $300,000 to install the lights.

Council member Mary Mulhern had asked for the delay to give the city's public arts committee a chance to discuss the project, which Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced last week. She said the committee met Wednesday and "we're fine with it."

With Thursday's vote, the installation can be done in time for the convention, scheduled for Aug. 27-30, Corrada said.

Even after the convention leaves, the lights will stay on at night, every night, permanently.

As the bridges are lit up, Corrada said, the city hopes that other private donors step forward to help light all eight downtown bridges, including the bridges to Harbour Island, the Laurel Street bridge and some of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway overpasses downtown.

Richard Danielson can be reached at, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.