I am writing in response to several recent letters to the editor about the Memorial Bridge Illumination Project which are rooted in misinformation that I hope to correct here.
1.) This project is fully endorsed by the Dark Skies Initiative, who became involved very early on and gave input along the way. LED lighting has significantly less light trespass than the proposed HPS lighting (a prime example of HPS lighting is the glowing Portsmouth Naval Shipyard). The project will decrease the number of street lights needed, and most of the lights will be positioned at the top of the towers pointing down, further decreasing light trespass.
2.) The project will save taxpayer money, as LED lighting is incredibly energy efficient. The savings will pay back the initial investment very quickly.
3.) The initial investment is funded entirely from private donations. Any discussion of what the money would better be spent on is moot, as there is no funding from the city—only from individuals like myself who support the project because it will immediately beautify a significant city landmark and have long-term environmental and fiscal benefits for our community.
In short, the city is reaping the cost-saving benefits without having to foot the initial investment, and the result is a darker sky, more visible stars, and a more visually appealing bridge. A true win-win scenario.
Above is a photo of the Feb 15th lighting test. Although a bit deceiving since the horizontal parts of the bridge will not be illuminated (only the vertical towers, and the center span when fully raised), it is very telling to see the amount of light trespass difference between this LED lighting and the traditional HPS sodium halide lighting of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.