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Campus & Community

Bright Idea for Paint Branch Bridge

Artistic Lighting Installation Illuminates Popular Path

By Colleen Crowley M.Jour. ’19

Paint Branch Bridge

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle

A colorful light show brightens the Paint Branch Bridge on Baltimore Avenue thanks to a project spearheaded by the College Park City-University Partnership.

You have to wait until after sunset to see the latest addition to Greater College Park.

Before the start of the fall semester, the Paint Branch Bridge on Baltimore Avenue was fitted with an artistic lighting installation, a project spearheaded by the College Park City-University Partnership as part of the ongoing effort to revitalize the surrounding community.

Now, nighttime passersby see rainbow-colored strips of light projected onto the sidewalks, with different mixes of colors cycling in and out.

The bridge has been increasingly used by cyclists and pedestrians, but lacked illumination, both on the street level and in the underpass, said Valerie Woodall, senior program associate for the partnership.

What was needed was a solution that would “allow people to get through College Park in a way that is safe and pleasurable,” she said.

The nonprofit collaborated with the city of College Park, the University of Maryland and the state of Maryland to devise a plan, with the cooperation of the State Highway Administration and the College Park Arts Exchange. The project committee connected with former Terp Eric Mintzer, founder and technical director of the Portland-based lighting design company Imaginex. Launched in College Park, the company programs custom software to manipulate technology into creating special effects, holograms and 3-D light shows for events and companies, including Intel, Moonrise Festival and Adidas.

The display that Imaginex recently installed on Mintzer’s old turf is part light show, part safety measure. The lights are programmable and can be keyed to holidays and special university events.

The project was supported mainly by grants, including $25,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The College Park City-University Partnership plans to continue improving the area along the Paint Branch, including a possible riverwalk. More importantly, said Woodall, the organization is focusing on continuing to “activate public spaces” and bring community art to Baltimore Avenue.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.