Rainbow Bridge Phase Two Lighting

Project Description

Rainbow Bridge is an iconic element of the La Conner landscape. It is the most significant feature of the visual character of the Town and surrounding community. It is used by numerous public and private entities as a key component of their identity and marketing programs. During the dark hours, and especially during the long nights of winter, the warm lights of the bridge serve to celebrate and enhance economic vitality of the downtown core. For boaters headed north through the Channel, the lights are a gateway to the cruising grounds of the Salish Sea. For those of us who are privileged to live here, the lighted Bridge signifies “Home”.

The Town has recently installed lights on the north side of the Bridge. Budget constraints have not allowed the south side to be lit. As members of the greater La Conner Community, we here in Shelter Bay should do something about that.

A group of community leaders has formed “The Light Brigade”. Its goal is to fund the permitting, installation and maintenance of lights on the south side of the Bridge in partnership with the Town of La Conner. In order to simplify the process of inter-jurisdictional agreements, permitting and installation, we envision using the same process and technology recently used by the Town to implement the north side lighting. This will also have the benefit of creating a unified look to the Bridge, again reinforcing the close bonds between Shelter Bay and the Town. Importantly, this project will be funded entirely by individual private donations, placing no financial burden on the Town of La Conner or the Shelter Bay Community other than minimal annual maintenance costs.

During the spring of 2024, we intend to establish the budget, collect pledges of financial support, as well as expressed support for the effort by the Shelter Bay Board of Directors. These actions will form the basis for the next steps.

From May to August we will establish inter-agency agreements with the Town of La Conner, The Port of Skagit, Skagit County and the Swinomish Tribe. These agreements will require positive action by the Boards and Commissioners of the various partnering agencies. These agreements will support the permitting process required to implement the installation. The Town of La Conner will be identified as the “Lead Agency” for this work.

Once these agreements are in hand, pledges received by the Light Brigade will be converted to contributions and transferred to the Lead Agency in order to fund permitting and installation. This will start the permitting process, which will run from April 2024 to August 2024. Once permits are obtained, implementation can commence, with a completion target of November 2024.

The Town of La Conner will have on-going management responsibility for the lights on the Bridge. Shelter Bay Community will contribute an annual maintenance fee to the Town for upkeep and any other actions required to keep the lights functioning as designed.

We need your help to realize this dream. If you are an elected official, we need your support in forming the partnerships needed to permit and manage this project. If you are a resident of Shelter Bay, we need your help to fund the project. Our budget is $30,000. Click here for a pledge form

I have been designated as the project manager for the Light Brigade, and welcome any comments and thoughts you may have that will lead to a successful outcome for this project. I particularly welcome your leadership and participation in collecting pledges from your network of Shelter Bay residents.

Please feel free to contact me at [email protected]

Thank you,

Rainbow Bridge Lighting Phase Two – Shelter Bay side

February – March 2024
1. Project Description (for use in tasks below)
2. Establish Budget
3. Collect SB Pledges
April – May 2024
4. Establish Partnerships including Board/Council/Senate commitments
a. Town
b. Port
c. County
d. Tribe
e. Shelter Bay
Identify public jurisdiction as “Lead Agency” (probably Town of La Conner)
June – August 2024

5. Project Funding – Shelter Bay
Convert Pledges to Contributions
Transfer money to Lead Agency
September – October – 2024

6. Permitting – By Lead Agency
Detailed project description including technical aspects
Identify power supply
Permit applications
Permit Issuance
November – December 2024

7. Implementation – Managed by Lead Agency
Contract documents for equipment and installation
Infrastructure – power provision
Execute contracts
Manage installation

Click here for the Pledge Form

Trevor Pyle
Skagit Valley Herald
LA CONNER — Viewed one way, adding lights to La Conner’s iconic
Rainbow Bridge may be the end of a long-running saga.
Some Skagit County residents hope it’s the beginning of another.
With several hundred lights added to the structure, local officials hope the
Rainbow Bridge’s brilliance in the evening makes it an enhanced point of
pride for Skagit County residents — and a year-round draw for tourists.
“It’s a million-dollar view,” La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes said. “The
locals love it … We’re hoping for an economic benefit as well.”
The steel-decked Rainbow Bridge arches over the Swinomish Channel
and links La Conner and Fidalgo Island. Known for its unusual design
and orange hue, it hasn’t always been lit at night, though lights have
sometimes been installed by residents. The lights put up in December
were the result of a partnership between La Conner and Skagit County.
Originally feeling daunted by a potential six-figure price tag, La Conner
was encouraged when public-works director Brian Lease discovered a
previously unknown option: less expensive, magnetized lights that could
be fixed to the bridge individually.
Hayes said Lease was instrumental in shepherding the project.
In a community largely dependent on tourism, the newly lit — and now
even more appealing — bridge could provide a boost once the impact of
COVID-19 has lessened, Hayes said.
“From an economic development standpoint, it’s one of the county’s most
underutilized assets. Post-COVID, I hope we’ll reap a strong benefit from
people who want to be in the community, who want to take advantage of
the boardwalk,” Hayes said.
Port of Skagit executive director Patsy Martin, a strong supporter of the
project, said she’s thrilled to see the lights installed. Martin said while
she’s a fan of the bridge’s colorful look during the day having it lit at
night adds another dimension.
“It’s beautiful, it really is,” she said.
Martin said, “We see with our visitors to the (Port of Skagit) marina, a lot
of the reason they like to come is to visit the lovely town of La Conner.
Having lights on the bridge is another wonderful attribute for the town
that people will come to see … Once we get on other side of COVID
people will be back and the lighting of the bridge will be another piece to
Trevor Pyle