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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The I-35W Bridge Veterans Day Tribute

A Look At The I-35W Saint Anthony Falls
Bridge Lit Up In Red, White, And Blue
To Celebrate Veterans Day 2011


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge features an innovative LED lighting system where each LED element is individually addressable, allowing any color in the spectrum to be displayed. On most nights, the bridge is bathed in a eerie blue glow that looks like something out of a science fiction movie. However, the bridge is occassionaly lit up in other colors for special occasions.

One such occasion Veterans Day on the evening of November 11, 2011. Veterans Day normally gets a fair amount of media coverage, but there was more than usual this year due to many troops coming home from Iraq and reports of very high unemployment among veterans. As an example, many restaurants across the nation were offering free meals and gift cards to any veteran from any branch of the armed forces. To pay tribute to our veterans, MN-DOT lit up the I-35W bridge in a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme. The bridge featured alternating bands of red, white, and blue along its east face. Unlike other recent bridge light displays, this display featured animation. That is, the bands of light appeared to slowly crawl north along the length of the bridge. The west face, however, was lit in solid blue. MN-DOT has been keeping that side of the bridge in blue as a memorial to the folks who were injured and killed in the bridge disaster.

The photo above is looking north across the river along the east face of the I-35W bridge. The vantage point is the south side of West River Parkway near where it passes under the bridge. This photo shows the red, white, and blue light alternating along the length of the bridge, while the piers are lit up in solid blue.

Note—these materials are covered by copyright and may not be used without written permission.


I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
The photo above is looking northwest across the river channel from the bicycle trail that passes under the south end of both the I-35W bridge and the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. Note that the side of the nearest pier is blue, and that the bridge is showing blue and white light on the left side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is the same view as the photo above, using the same exposure. Note here that the side of the nearest pier is red, and the bridge is lit up in red light on the left side of the photo. This change in light is due to the colors being modulated to make it appear that the stripes are crawling north across the river.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This view is looking northwest across the Mississippi River from the bicycle trail as it passes under the 10th Avenue Bridge. From this angle, we can see faint reflections of blue and red light on the water. When this photo was taken, the nearest pier was lit up in red.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is the same photo as above, but with the nearest pier lit up in blue.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is the same photo as above, but with the nearest pier lit up in white. The white is somewhat washed out with red and blue due to the animation of the colors. In order to get a decent looking photo, the camera shutter needs to be open about 1/4 second (even at a very high ISO number). As a result, the left side of the white is starting to turn blue, and the right side of the white still shows a bit of red.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is a view of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge from my favorite vantage point high above the river on the bluff located between the I-35W bridge and the nearby 10th Avenue Bridge. In this photo, the side of the nearest pier is showing red, and we see red at the far left side of the photo.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This is the same photo taken a few seconds later, with the nearest pier being blue, and the south end of the bridge (on the left side of the photo) is just turning from white to blue.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
This photo is looking west through one of the smaller arches of the 10th Avenue Bridge towards the south end of the I-35W bridge. The 10th Avenue Bridge is not directly visible. It can be seen in photos that were exposed longer, but that caused the bridge colors to be overexposed. In contrast, in this photo, the colors are rendered very close to how it looked with the naked eye.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN
These two photos are looking upstream from Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9, an old railroad bridge over the Mississippi River that has been converted to pedestrian and bicycle use. The 10th Avenue Bridge is partially blocking the view of the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, which makes for a good effect since the concrete arch bridge shows up as a black shadow in front of the I-35W Bridge lights. The photo above is looking west towards the two smaller arches on the south end of the 10th Avenue Bridge. While the large concrete bridge is not directly visible, its outline is very distinct as it blocks the light from the I-35W bridge. The photo below is a wider shot from about mid-channel above the Mississippi River. Downtown Minneapolis is visible on the left side of the photo, while a nice reflection off of the water is visible in the foreground. Note that the ripples in the water are visible. That is due to this being a short exposure made possible by using a very high ISO setting. Contrast this to the Halloween photo from the same location where a long exposure with a low ISO setting made for a photo with more detail, but the ripples were blurred out.

I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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