How Tilikum Crossing lights up the night

You’ve probably been bombarded with status updates and photo galleries of the new lighting system on the Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People. We just finished our second lighting trial where the artist fine-tuned the color and motion program and its relation to the Willamette River’s activity.

Sadly, the lights will not be turned on permanently until September 2015, when the new MAX Orange Line opens. So until then, here are some interesting tidbits of information about the lights to hold you over.

  • The lighting system was created by San Francisco artist Douglas Hollis and his wife, the late Anna Valentina Murch, for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Transit Project’s Public Art Program.
  • There are 178 LED lights aesthetically placed on 40 bridge cables, the four transmission towers above and below the deck, and on the Sonic Dish artwork along the Eastside Esplanade and future Willamette Greenway at the ends of the bridge.
  • The lights change colors based on the Willamette River’s speed, height and water temperature.
  • This data is collected by a U.S. Geological Survey river monitor near the Morrison Bridge.
  • Specialized software designed by programmer Morgan Barnard takes that data and translates it into movements of color and light across the bridge.
  • The water temperature determines the base color.
  • The river’s speed controls the pace the colors change and move across the bridge.
  • The river’s height is displayed by a second color that moves vertically up and down the towers and the cables.

Learn more about the MAX Orange Line, opening in September 2015!

Jessica Ridgway

Jessica Ridgway

I’m TriMet’s Web and Social Media Coordinator. I develop content for our website and social media channels. I’m a daily MAX rider and an adopted Oregonian.

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