Blue lights to stay on Edwards bridge |

Blue lights to stay on Edwards bridge

Veronica Whitney
NWS MillerR Blue Lights BH 2-5 Vail Daily/ Bret Hartman A car passes over the newly built Miller Ranch Road Bridge Thursday night. Local residents are complaining about the blue lights that light the bridge.

Rael Zimmerman says he likes the blue neon lights on the new Miller Ranch Road Bridge in Edwards so much that he drives over it every night.

Zimmerman’s endorsement was among 119 calls and e-mails sent to Eagle County, some critical, about the lights on the bridge that opened in January.

“More than 80 percent of the comments are in favor of keeping the blue lights,” said Helen Migchelbrink, Eagle County’s chief engineer. “So we’ll keep them.”

Instead of the standard yellow street lights that are usually installed along roadways, the county decided to try something new. Inside the copper domes on top of each of the eight stone columns flanking the bridge are thin, blue neon lights.

But soon after the bridge opened to traffic on Jan. 9, some residents complained about the lights. One woman called them “quite jarring.” The county then asked for residents’ opinion on the lights.

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“Blue lights are a boldly unnatural eyesore,” said Nancy Baumer of Arrowhead.

“Looks like a Star Wars battle,” added Curt Kudel of Edwards.

But those favoring the lights apparently spoke louder than the detractors.

“(The lights) give the bridge an air of mystique,” said Jenna Skinner.

“Awesome,” said John Walsh. “I hike trails in Cordillera and they look beautiful from there,” John Walsh.

County Administrator Jack Ingstad said he was amazed at the amount of people who called or e-mailed the county.

“The lights are doing (even) better than Kerry in the primaries,” Ingstad said. “It’s been unbelievable the amount of people who got interested in what was a somewhat small issue.

“But it was a fun thing for people to comment on,” he added. “It’s kind of like art and people like to comment on architecture. We have started to push the envelope on some of our designs.”

Keeping the lights as they are means the county won’t have to spend the approximately $8,000 it would have cost to switch to a more standard design, Migchelbrink added.

“We are a very progressive county and the results of this survey shows how people embrace change,” Migchelbrink said. “It was a really interesting exercise in community involvement.”

Designers were trying to be innovative with the blue lights when they built the $4 million bridge to replace the old Cemetery Road Bridge, which the county closed in 2001 because it was dangerous, Migchelbrink said.

“The designer of the bridge, Boulder-based Loris and Associates, used the lights to accentuate the architectural qualities of the bridge while providing safer access for pedestrians who walk across the bridge at night,” Migchelbrink said. “It’s definitely downcast light.”

The bridge, which crosses the Eagle River, is supposed to ease traffic congestion in Edwards. It extends Miller Ranch Road from the Edwards Spur Road to U.S. Highway 6 and is part of the Berry Creek project, a public-private development in Edwards that includes affordable housing, a day-care center, a new Colorado Mountain College campus, recreation fields, a pond and a high school.

While owners have moved into some of the homes there, most of the Berry Creek project is still under construction.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at

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