Ringling Bridge Illumination Part of Statewide Unity Effort

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING THURSDAY MAR 26, 2020

Lights on the underside of the John Ringling Causeway cast the Sarasota landmark in red, white and blue. It's a look meant to inspire a patriotic sense of unity and community— and could be the first such project as part of a statewide effort.

“The governor said very recently we need to work hard as a community and come out stronger on the other side,” said Beth Frady, communications director for the Florida Department of Transportation. “That’s what FDOT wants to do with this.” She refers to the global coronavirus pandemic that has shut down much of normal life and business in the state of Florida. Sarasota has seen is beaches closed, and the first death from COVID-19 happened in the community this week, with the death of international renown playwright Terrance McNally at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

“The community needs this and appreciates it,” Sarasota City Commissioner Hagen Brody wrote in a letter to FDOT. He called on FDOT to light the bridge, with the colors representing more than just the U.S. The red represents first responders, white for the essential workforce and blue for the medical professionals on the front lines of a pandemic.

Next comes the Sunshine Skyway, maybe Florida’s most iconic bridge connecting Manatee and Pinellas counties. That structure will light up tonight with the same red, white and blue color scheme. FDOT will light up other infrastructure throughout the state, including a bridge and a tunnel in Daytona Beach.

Frady said the department must work with bridges that have lighting in place. Workers can’t be sent to install lighting in teams thanks to social distancing, and it’s admittedly not the highest priority for spending when state revenues are in freefall. But to reprogram infrastructure lighting where it already exists feels like an easy thing to do that can help the state of Florida feel some positivity at a time of enormous hardship, Frady said. “We may be social distancing, but we're still here, and we're still all in this together,” she said.

Photo courtesy FDOT: John RIngling Causeway lit in patriotic colors.

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