Brightening up the community: LED lights being installed at Grand Rapids overpasses

Posted at 10:33 PM, Jan 04, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Colorful LED light systems are being installed under highway overpasses in Grand Rapids.

In addition to the lights, the city is also working with the Michigan Department of Transportation to install improvements like better sidewalks and more shade trees. It's one of 13 illumination projects that are part of the GR Forward Plan, the 10-year master plan to help shape the community.

"They're not just under the overpass, they're also on the outside of the overpass so they light up the wall," said Tim Kelly, vice president of planning and development.

Primary gateway opportunities include:

  • Heartside Park
  • Grandville overpass
  • Fulton Street overpass and at the intersection with Market Avenue
  • Pearl Street overpass
  • Bridge Street overpass
  • Monroe Avenue overpass
  • I-196 on and off-ramps
  • Monroe Avenue at Coldbrook
  • Market and Wealthy streets
  • Division and Wealthy streets

The state highway department wrote a matching grant to fund eight of these projects. The two in the core were partnered by the Downtown Development Authority, the rest by the city.

Kelly says the lights won't just help bring more visitors to the city but will help bridge parts of the community back together.

"The freeway itself serves as a barrier to east and west downtown, so we really wanted to reestablish those connections to downtown," Kelly said. "They're very similar to the blue bridge. We have colored LED lights that come on at dusk, and we can change the colors as needed."

On average, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. is spending about $100,000 on each project, which includes the lights, expanded sidewalks, and safety improvements.