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Ask Us: Kennedy Bridge lights will stay white

The Herald received a call from Jeff Wencl, coordinator of the Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission, after the newspaper recently published a story detailing progress on the Kennedy Bridge. ("Kennedy Bridge work stays on track, Page A1, April 26.)

Wencl wanted to let readers know the new lights to be installed on the Kennedy Bridge will remain a soft white even though the system will be capable of alternating all sorts of colors.

"We only got that system because it will give us a warm white color scheme that is historically authentic," he said. "Technically, they are the same lights as on the Sorlie Bridge, but we're not going to use them that way."

Wencl said the lights simply will replace the existing fixtures and people probably will not even notice a difference. He said the lights will not be distracting for nearby homes or residents of St. Anne's Guest Home.

"We reaffirmed our position. The Sorlie Bridge is iconic. It connects the downtowns of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. It looks good there," he said of the colored lights. "When you look at the lights on the Kennedy Bridge, it just doesn't make sense there."

Wencl said up to eight governing bodies, including the cities of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, the Preservation Commission and transportation departments for both North Dakota and Minnesota, review and agree each year to the dates when the Sorlie lights will be altered. Generally, the dates are limited to holidays and special occasions, he said.

"It's usually major holidays and if one city wants to do something special, like if the Fighting Hawks won a national tournament, we could turn them green, white and pink if all groups concurred," he said. "That's the whole point of it. It's meant to be a special occasion thing, not willy-nilly."

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