LA CONNER — La Conner’s Rainbow Bridge may get its glow back.
If approved, an agreement between the town of La Conner and Skagit County would have them share the costs of installing and maintaining magnetically-attached lights on the familiar structure.
La Conner’s Town Council approved the interlocal agreement Tuesday. A decision from the Skagit County Board of Commissioners is pending.
Installing lights on the 63-year-old bridge is a lengthy saga that includes attempts by individuals to install and care for the lights themselves.
Local governments looked at the issue in recent years, but costs were too steep, with one estimate being about $100,000.
Because the lights now being considered would be attached by strong magnets — eliminating the need for a complicated and expensive infrastructure — the cost will be about $10,000.
“From a tourism perspective to a local perspective, people love having the bridge lit,” La Conner Mayor Ramon Hayes said. “Communities are looking for opportunities to spur the economy in light of the challenges we’ve had ... We can do this as an economic development issue. It adds to ambience of the town.”
Skagit County Commissioner Ron Wesen said, “The Rainbow Bridge is an iconic showpiece in the county. It’s such a beautiful structure ... La Conner has such a beautiful boardwalk, they have a lot of great tourism. This will bring the economic development we need after the shutdown.”
The proposal calls for about 600 lights.
La Conner Public Works Director Brian Lease said he researched lighting options before finding commercial-grade lights that are attached by magnets.
Stronger magnets will be added to increase the stability of the lights against harsh weather, he said. He and representatives from the county have tested some options on some of the bridge structure.
The steel-decked Rainbow Bridge, which arches over the Swinomish Channel and connects La Conner and Fidalgo Island, opened in 1957. It’s known for its design, which was unusual at the time, and its orange color.