FDOT making changes to bridge lighting policy

Photo: Fred Ortyl & Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation is making changes to its rules regarding decorative bridge lighting.

Earlier this month, FDOT ordered the rainbow lights recognizing Pride Month shut off on the Acosta Bridge in Jacksonville after officials received complaints and they believed the lights did not meet code. FDOT reversed its decision the next day.

News4Jax on Tuesday confirmed that FDOT will put decisions on future special bridge lighting requests in the hands of local governments.

Certain lights for holidays and other events are permitted, such as Christmas and the Fourth of July. In a statement (in full at end of article) sent to News4Jax on Tuesday, an FDOT spokesperson Hampton Ray said the department will continue to follow the existing bridge lighting policy and, in addition to the approved holidays, review requests that include items such as resolutions from cities or county governments in order to add other non-permitted lighting schemes on all state bridges, like the Pride lighting. The spokesperson said FDOT will request at least 30 days advance notice for those.

This will take the decisions out of FDOT’s hands and, in a way, hand it over to local governments.

The spokesperson said that due to the constrained timeline, the lights already scheduled for the Acosta Bridge for the month of July by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority will be permitted with a written request clarifying the broad community interest of event. However, beginning Aug. 1, lighting variance requests will need to go through the proper request format.

“This will be the process for each request going forward,” the statement reads.

Before the changes were confirmed, News4Jax on Monday checked with the mayor’s office and was referred to the Jacksonville City Council. Incoming City Council President Sam Newby said he is looking into it and will respond later. JTA said it is working with the district FDOT office to move forward.

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Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.