The Astoria-Megler bridge is a sort of Pacific Northwest icon. It is an impressive, 4.1 mile long feat of engineering placed in an setting that is as historically significant as it is picturesque. Now it would seem that the nearly 45 year old bridge that connects the coastal town of Astoria, Oregon with Point Ellice, Washington is going to get a little greener. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), the bridge is going to try out some new solar powered navigation lights as part of a pilot program that has been approved by the Federal Highway Administration.
Navigation lights are apparently a matter of business for the U.S. Coast Guard and a requirement for bridges that span navigable bodies of water that see a significant amount of nighttime activity. The bridge, which was completed in 1966, still has its original navigation lighting system but the existing electrical conduit has become corroded and needs replacing.
This project, which is said will cost $355,000, is funded by an “Innovative Bridge Research and Development Grant” and will involve the installation of new lights, solar panels and batteries on the bridge’s piers and superstructure.
Installation of the solar lighting system is scheduled to start this summer. The existing lighting system will stay in place while the new solar powered system is tested over the course of the next year. Benjamin Tang, a preservation managing engineer with ODOT Technical Services says that if things go well with this pilot project, ODOT would like to consider using the durable solar powered systems on other coastal and remote area bridges.