Community flips the switch on bridge lighting


Christine Holmes

Community members involved in making the bridge lighting possible gathered at Restoration Park Tuesday evening to view the lights.

By Jessica Johnston, Assistant News Director

The lights have been permanently turned on under two bridges in Downtown Zanesville in an effort to illuminate the community.

Tuesday evening, community members came together to celebrate the completion of the most recent Downtown lighting project.

Russ Nelson of Nelson’s Seasonal Decor, LLC, who has been working with the visitors bureau for holiday decorations, approached Kelly Ashby, Vice President of the Zanesville-Muskingum County County Chamber of Commerce, and presented the idea of lighting up the bridges.

He did a demonstration of his idea in November of 2017.

Nearly two years later, the lights have been hung and now illuminate the waters under both the Y-Bridge and Sixth Street Bridge in Downtown Zanesville.

“There are studies out there that show … that there is an economic impact on a community with regards to lighting projects whether it’s bridges or additional lighting,” Ashby said. “Our churches are lit at night, so we are a community that is known for lighting projects. So, we’re just wanting to continue to have lighting projects for Muskingum County.”

With plenty of options for lighting project around the community, Ashby said the bridges were chosen for a specific reason.

“The Y Bridge is an icon. We have visitors that come weekly for the Y-Bridge,” she said. “… It was just one of the best things to light up. We were once known as the Y-Bridge City, some folks still call us that.”

Not only does the Y-Bridge provide an iconic staple to the community, but the bridges are easily visible to motorists passing by on Interstate 70, as well as people entering the Downtown Zanesville area.

“Then with all the development that’s gone on Sixth Street with Dutro Ford and with Allen Cottrill being right there,” Ashby said. “And it’s a wonderful entrance into our community from the south, it just made sense to light up the Sixth Street Bridge, as well.”

Six organizations came together to fund the roughly $175,000 project — the Muskingum County Community Foundation, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Convention Facilities Authority, Noon Rotary, Daybreak Rotary and the Rogge Foundation.

With the number of sponsors, as well as coordination with the City of Zanesville, Muskingum County and ODOT the project took awhile to come to fruition.

The organizations that made the project possible are hoping there will be more lighting projects in the future, as well as development in the downtown area — especially along the river.

According to Ashby, the City has a project in the planning phases of continuing development at canal park by adding some additional lighting and extending the path along the canal.

“We hope to see that happen in 2020,” Ashby said.

Now that the project is complete, the lights under both bridges will be illuminated from dusk until dawn each day.

The lights will change colors according to the season and holidays. The lights, which are operated by the foundation through the support of the six organizations, are also able to be changed in accordance with the Muskingum County Courthouse as well.

In order to maintain the current lights, as well as embark on other lighting projects, the six organizations are going to continue a maintenance fund through the Muskingum County Community Foundation.

Anyone interested in seeing the lights can visit each bridge, the canal path, and the City overlook at Putnam Hill Park, as well as Linden Avenue, Restoration Park and simply by driving over the bridges.

Ashby said the next phase of their project is to work with other organizations to clear areas along the river bank for viewing areas.