The committee that oversees the lights on the Interstate 35 bridges adjacent to McLane Stadium has an eye on upcoming construction and what it could mean for the addition of lights.
The three-member board, with representatives of the city of Waco, Baylor University and the Texas Department of Transportation, has started seeking more information on the opportunities for lighting that could come with the state’s overhaul of I-35.
A $341 million reconstruction of the highway from the north end of Loop 340 to 12th Street is set to start soon and include the addition of a main travel lane in both directions, reconstruction of existing frontage roads and bridges, and other improvements. Work is scheduled to take about 46 months, with substantial completion expected in spring 2023.
I-35 Bridge Lighting Committee member John Kinnaird, a Waco City Council member, asked that ideas and more information be brought back at the next meeting regarding what lighting under the new bridges could look like. The project for the bridges spanning the Brazos River on Interstate 35 itself would still be three to four years away, and while technology will change between now and then, starting the discussion would not hurt, he said.
“We plan on eventually incorporating all the lights up and down 35 to make it one cohesive display,” Kinnaird said. “That’s a few years away.”
In 2015, the three entities dedicated new access road bridges with programmable LED lights covering the towers, cables and decks, plus lights beneath that illuminate the riverwalk along the Brazos.
Baylor spent $500,000 on the system, which was installed by TxDOT and a subcontractor for Lane Construction, which oversaw the construction of the bridges.
The city operates and maintains the system.
Maintenance over the past two years has included addressing the sealing around light fixtures, said Christine Miller, a city traffic engineer in training. Exposure to the weather and the damp air coming off the river has led officials to make up dates gradually, Miller said.
“We’re doing it piece, by piece, by piece,” she said.
The lighting system under the planned main-lane bridges will feature a much simpler, and more accessible, design, she said.