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Portland Bridge Light Display Controlled by River Conditions

PORTLAND, Oregon — Portland’s largest public art display debuted in September with the opening of the new Tilikum Crossing bridge and its dynamic nightly illumination.

Officially titled “Tilikum Light: An Illuminating Conversation between a River and a Bridge,” the light display is the only aesthetic art feature in the country to be controlled by river data.

One hundred seventy-eight LED lights shining along the bridge’s 1,700-foot span shift in movement and color based on conditions in the Willamette River collected in real-time by the United States Geological Survey.

The base color varies with water temperature and season, while a second color’s vertical movement along the bridge’s four towers and 40 cables responds to the river’s height.

Additionally, the pace of color movement ebbs and flows with the river’s speed. Powered by renewable energy, the permanent lighting display activates each evening at dusk.

The bridge carries TriMet’s light rail trains, Portland Streetcars, buses, bicycles, pedestrians and emergency vehicles, but private cars and trucks are not permitted. It is the first new bridge built across the river in the Portland metropolitan area since 1973.