City closer to getting lights on Chehalis River Bridge

The Aberdeen City Council approved a new engineering contract to make way for pedestrian lights on the Chehalis River Bridge. Council members also approved a resolution with hopes of garnering a grant to finally bring decorative lights to the arches of the bridge.

Aberdeen Mayor Bill Simpson called it one of the most important moments to clear the way to have the state and city recognize the importance of the city’s landmark bridge.

“That beautiful bridge, we need to have lights on it to show it off,” Simpson said.

Most of the pedestrian lights were removed following an incident in 2006 when a rusted light pole fell over and crushed a car.

Last year, following lobbying from state Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen; the city received $445,000 to design and install pedestrian lighting on the Chehalis River Bridge.

Public Works Director Malcolm Bowie said that the city hasn’t yet received the funding and probably won’t until April. On Wednesday, the city authorized the firm DKS and transportation engineer Eric Shimuzu to work with Bowie on the project.

“The hope is for us to get the lights installed this summer, but there’s a lot of things to do first,” Bowie said.

The city recently received the sign off from the state Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, which reviewed three methods the city could install the light-emitting diodes on the bridge — adhesive, strapping and anchor bolts. The bridge is considered a historic structure and its uniqueness needs to be preserved, per state standards.

“We feel that strapping is less than optimal and should be ruled out as an attachment option,” wrote Transportation Archaeologist Matthew Sterner. “The use of adhesives or anchor bolts is clearly preferable, although in the case of anchor bolts, please attach provisions for the subsequent filling of any attachment holes should the light strip be removed in the future. Otherwise, I concur that the current project as proposed will have no adverse effect on the bridge.”


Bringing pedestrian lights back to the bridge to help walkers and drivers is one thing, but community groups have been clamoring to add decorative lights to the bridge for years.

A few years ago, the Grays Harbor Vision 2020 group drew up mock renderings of what the Chehalis River Bridge might look like if there weren’t just light poles on the bridge but decorative lights on it, as well. The Our Aberdeen and Aberdeen Revitalization Movement groups are working together on a potential grant with the city to make it happen. On Wednesday, the Aberdeen City Council unanimously approved a resolution in support of their efforts.

“Whereas, if additional decorative lighting is to be installed on the bridge, it would save time and money to do it at the same time the city is installing the pedestrian lighting as part of the state Department of Transportation project,” the resolution states.

The groups are hoping to apply for a grant from the Grays Harbor Community Foundation, with an application deadline due in the next couple of weeks.

Councilman Denny Lawrence said he’s excited to see progress on the lighting front, noting that as a member of Our Aberdeen he first pressed the city to do more on that front more than a year ago.