Memorial Bridge News

Many made Memorial Bridge illumination possible

Jan. 18 — To the Editor (Reprinted with permission from the Illimunation Committee Chairman)

Since December 28, the new Memorial Bridge has been bathed in a variety of colors and illumination programs using color changeable LED (light emitting diode) lighting.  Our committee was dedicated to producing an illumination that would enhance the beauty and attractiveness of our bridge without being garish or tasteless.  I am convinced that we have done that.  However, these programs are not permanent and can be changed or added to in the future.

We did not know when we started working on this project more than two years ago whether our Seacoast community residents would agree with our vision enough to fund the project.  But our committee started out with the advantage of having members on our committee from four area towns.  And the community did respond dramatically, by first pledging and then donating more than $200,000 to make this project happen.  In fact, we were able to collect on 100 percent of all pledges.

As many of you may already have heard, this project set a number of new standards for a federally funded infrastructure project.  Both as a model of private/public involvement in such projects, and also blazing a path through the bureaucratic maze that previously did not have a way to accommodate local citizens’ input and their privately raised donations.  Without the help of some important partners such as the N.H. Department of Transportation, the City of Portsmouth and the Portsmouth Historical Society, this effort would have failed.

Our project had a wide range of donors from near and far, and included donations from $5 and up.  We received 38 donations from businesses and organizations.  This included eight out-of-state-based donors, two New Hampshire-based donors and 28 Seacoast area donors.  Individual donations came from 159 donors, with five coming from out-of-state donors (as far away as Maryland).  The remaining donations came from 25 cities and towns in New Hampshire and Maine.  The top donating cities/towns were: Portsmouth (88), Kittery (32), Rye (9), New Castle (4), Greenland (4), Hampton (4), and Dover, South Berwick and York, each with three donors.

 (Click to enlarge photo)

Our committee was determined to ensure that every donor, large and small, would be recognized for their support.  If you were a donor to our project but have not received a recognition flier, please contact me for your copy at (603) 436-5221 or  In addition to the flier, a permanent plaque recognizing large donors is scheduled to be installed at the foot of the bridge sometime this spring by the Portsmouth Public Works Department.

Finally, it is time for everyone, whether you are a Seacoast resident or a visitor, to enjoy a beautiful night in Portsmouth on the bridge.  Our lighting artist, John Powell, has created and installed 16 distinct programs, both dynamic and static solid colors (blue, white and red).  The timers have also been set to turn the illumination on shortly before dusk and to turn them off at 2 a.m.  The operations and maintenance of the illumination has now been handed over to Portsmouth Public Works.  You can also view the illumination from your computer by navigating to

On behalf of the Memorial Bridge Illumination Committee,

Peter Somssich, Chairman

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