Saturday, July 11, 2009

What Color Should We Paint the Braga Bridge?

A few years ago one of overpasses over I-195, near Government Center was painted from it's familiar green to a pale blue color. I was struck by the difference a simple color change made. I wondered if the rest of the bridge work around there would be painted the same color. I wondered what the Braga Bridge would look like if it were painted blue.

Of course, that didn't happen but now, according to the O Jornal there are some folks that are thinking it might be time to consider painting the bridge a color other than its familiar green. Bert Harlow, a founder of the Narrows contacted the O Jornal to discuss the idea of a color change. Harlow suggested the bridge switch from it's drab green to international orange, the color of the famed Golden Gate Bridge.

He also suggested a millstone red could be nice and he pointed out a millstone red bridge would look better longer because the inevitable rust wouldn't be as noticeable.

I can only assume the O Jornal contacted members of our local delegation and Mayor Bob Correia and their response has been overwhelmingly in favor of a color change. With the Braga due to be repainted the shared sentiment was as long as it doesn't cost more money, why not?

So should we really paint the Braga Bridge some other color? Can you imagine driving in on Rt. 79 or I-195 only to see a large orange bridge, or red? This isn't a decision to be made on a whim because we'll be living with that color choice for the next quarter century! Even if the paint were to cost the same as the current green paint, and have all the same qualities and last just as long, would it cost us more because of the color change?

There will be a meeting on Monday morning at 9 a.m. with Mayor Correia, Senator Menard, Bert Harlow, Representative Rodrigues and Mass Highway to talk about this. Don't let them make a decision without you weighing in on it! Also take a moment to stop by the O Jornal website and participate in their reader's poll. For some reason international orange isn't included. Personally I can't decide if we should keep it green or change the color. Rust hiding red seems to make a lot of sense, but I think I'm gonna vote for the blue!


Faye Musselman said...

Color it red or color it blue,
But don't color it sad
Whatever you do.

For sad is the color of Fall River today
That leaves so many wantin'
To find a rainbow in a life of gray
On the east side of the Taunton.

Color it bright and color it happy
In strokes that will deliver
A resurgence of hope and smiles again
In this, your town, Fall River.

Scout said...

Oh, Faye ... that's sweet.

And, in all seriousness, I agree.

The Braga Bridge is such an iconic symbol for FR. It's almost sculptural ... like a piece of public art. And, for folks traveling to Cape Cod, etc., it's their first introduction to the city.

I think it would be great to paint it a funky, optimistic color that says "this city has imagination and humor and vitality" ... light blue, or orange, or yellow, or the practical and evocative millstone red :)

Faye Musselman said...

Scout - you said: "It's almost sculptural ... like a piece of public art." How appropriate and true.

Each and every time I visit Fall River I get a little "rush" crossing that Bridge at the moment the unique skyline opens up in full view. It's like a theatre curtain inviting me to step into history. And then, as soon as I descend, I'm flushed with the eagerness to explore the hidden riches - riches of cultural diversity, contrasting neighborhoods, evidence of community and work ethic. It is only when I walk certain neighborhoods (daylight only)or observe certain factions of the population in convenience stores or loitering with no purpose, that I'm reminded there is an underbelly to Fall River's surface that begs for better job opportunities, better schools and a proud knowledge of its history. Too small a percentage of its population are aware, appreciate, and nurture that history.

To the visitor, the Braga Bridge is a portal to the Fall River experience. Let its color be representative of that fact as well a source of pride to those who live there.

Scout said...

I love your "theater curtain" imagery, Faye! Beautifully put, and absolutely true.

There's a way in which cities that are lucky enough to be reached via bridge have an additional boost in the drama department ... I'm thinking of Manhattan, San Francisco, and (more locally to FR) Newport RI.

You're right about the "underbelly" of course, Faye ... as well as the brass tacks need for jobs, economic vitality, educational reform, etc. But that work needs to be complemented by efforts to make everyone (the people who live there, the people who pass through on their way to the Cape and might be persuaded not to write it off, the people who might move there or bring companies there) feel better about FR.

The color of the bridge might seem like a minor issue, but ... because it is so iconic, and because it's the portal to the city ... it's important to make it beautiful. The fact that it's painted that awful industrial green and constantly rusting is an unfortunate metaphor and message.

It would also be nice if it was fully functional ;) Last time I was in the area, there were closed lanes, construction, blind merges, etc. Hard for non-natives to negotiate, and not exactly laying out the welcome mat!

Anonymous said...

Faye, no one cares what you think about Fall River. You don't live here, all you care about is Lizzie Borden, a small piece of our city... Stay in Texas...

Lefty said...

I don't have a problem with Faye expressing her opinion. Yes, she is an 'outsider', (although I believe she is from AZ not TX), but sometimes it takes people with an outside perspective to see the good and the bad that those of us who live in the city have become blind to. If nothing else we should be glad to have her tourist dollars!

Faye Musselman said...

To Anonymous 10:16 am July 15...Isn't always the cowardly who criticise, piss and moan about this, that or the other rather than shed their cover to confront directly? All my life I've been upfront and direct, say it as I see it. When a person truly doesn't care what other people think of them - because they are grounded and secure in their own skin with healthy self esteem - the ability to be socially incorrect without conscience is quite liberating. Frankly, I think it'd be a better world if people were more honest and transparent rather than cloaking true feelings or biases - pretending what isn't so - just to be socially acceptable or liked.

As to living in Texas, - Lefty is correct - I live in the high desert or Arizona - a frontier tourist town called Payson. Love it. Had you read my blog you would know that. You would also know I don't just blog about Lizzie - recent entries have been on Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin.

For the past 35 years I have visited Fall River 2 to 5 times a year. From the very first visit I made friends with "old timers", some still living. I count dozens of Fall Riverites as my friends and often stay in their homes or the Lizzie Borden B&B when I'm there. I've probably sent a couple hundred people in the last 30 years to Fall River on their vacation, who otherwise would not have gone. A few have even moved there. I love visiting Fall River.

So, having said all of the above, let me close with this:

Bite me.

Faye Musselman said...

Scout - Yes, the San Francisco and Manhattan bridges certainly are dramatic but I don't think about history when I've crossed them. A feeling of excitement, certainly. Then there's the awareness of the vibrancy to those cities, a dynamic pulse. But I don't equate the feeling with crossing the Braga as I described. I suppose the sense of history comes, in part, because I've studied it for 4 decades and, visually, the iconic structures lending to the skyline are integral parts of that history going back two centuries: The mill chimneys, St. Anne's, the high granite rise to "the Hill", BMC Durfee old H.S. observatory and clock tower, etc. For one who would travel it everyday, the experience would be different. For one who would arrive and know nothing of FR's history, the experience would be different.

It's like going to Rome and seeing the Colliseum and The Forum. A knowledge of Rome's history makes the experience so much more enhanced. But then, that's true of any place and its history when visiting it in contemporary times.

Anonymous said...

If we took the time we spend pissing ang moaning and used it productively Fall River would be a much better place. I say any color is better than what we have now. Rust!

Scout said...

None of my business ... I'm a carpetbagger now too (although I'm a native!) ... but I agree with Lefty.

It's essential to get the perspective of visitors, if FR wants to attract new businesses, tourists, etc. First rule of marketing: you don't sell what you want to sell, you sell what they want to buy. And, as Lefty points out, people like Faye will notice things that you just don't see anymore if you live there. (That's not particular to FR ... it's true everywhere.)

Also ... (and I know this can seem annoying and pollyanna when you're in the trenches dealing with everyday problems) ... but people who AREN'T dealing with those problems have the luxury of envisioning new possibilities (i.e. seeing the forest and not the trees.) So they might give you a new idea, or a shot in the arm when you're just bone-tired from dealing with everything.

OK ... now this is REALLY pollanna ... but ... can't we all just get along? Seems to me that the people who care about the future of FR should support each other, even through disagreements. We're all on the same side.

Taking my soapbox now and goin' home :)

Lefty said...

Well said Scout!

And you are ALWAYS welcome to be part of the conversation.

Nothing makes blogging as rewarding as seeing a post stimulate good honest discussion.

Scout said...

Thanks for being so welcoming, Lefty.

I am sensitive, though, to the concerns of people like Anonymous who might be sick of dealing with FR's everyday challenges, and feel like some of us kind of parachute in with ideas. (I'm also well aware that we tend to post re: these kind of macro issues, like the arts, tourism, etc. when the city's dealing with immediate, brass tacks problems. It can probably seem kind of esoteric and precious.)

But we wouldn't be here (in virtual FR cyberspace :) if we didn't care and also know something about the city. I do think a diversity of perspectives (particularly from the outside looking in) is always useful ... especially when the chips are down. And I believe there is a place for big-picture discussions ... you gotta keep your eyes on the prize, you know?

Scout said...


An addendum to my previous post ... I had a delayed reaction and realized that what I wrote might be misinterpreted to mean that I think Faye "parachutes in" ... and nothing could be further from the truth. There's a woman who's clearly got her feet on the ground and her eyes on the horizon! I think you rock, Faye.

I was just trying to say that I kind of get where Anonymous is coming from.

Faye Musselman said...

Thank you, Scout, for the nice comments. I appreciate it. :)

Scout said...

Faye, just saw your comment re: the special anticipatory spark of history you feel coming over the Braga Bridge ... interesting!

I have to say that I feel the same thing in other places as well (every place has history, and some I know better than others) ... but the difference for me (even though I don't live in FR anymore) is that coming over the Braga Bridge always feels like coming home. No matter how well I know any other city, nothing feels quite the same. After your 4 decades of exploring FR, that may be part of what you're feeling as well.

I do think the bridge is iconic for everyone, both history people like us and people with other interests ... as well as tourists and visitors and passers-through and FR natives who would like to feel welcomed home.

Bottom line: I agree with Anonymous who said any color is better than RUST :)

The specific color isn't so important. The important thing is to dress up this important symbol of FR and use it to send a positive subliminal message about the city. (In its rusted form, it's kind of a symbol of broken window syndrome.)

Faye Musselman said...

I see in the FRHN online follow-up to this story that the bridge will be painted green. Kelly Green? No, might be interpreted as honoring the Irish and upset the Portuguese. Hunter green? Nope. Might be interpreted as the thousands hunting for a job. Army green? Java green? Islmatic green? Lime green?
Cream green? Spleen green? Irredescent green? Bile green? Lime sherbert green? Roadhouse green? Teal green?

Green is good. Green is life. Green is growth. Green is Immortality in the Order of Rainbow Girls. And Green supposedly slows the rust though I can't quite figure that out.

Scout said...

Spleen green! LOL! :)

I'm down with the green, I guess ... any color as long as it's new. But I don't understand the thing with the rust either. "Bridges ... are generally painted green in order to better demonstrate rusting tendencies." I interpreted that to mean that the rust is more visible with the green paint (than, say, with red) and I guess this goes to maintaining the structural integrity of the bridge? We want to see the rust? Dunno.

The thing that caught my eye was the TWO YEARS they're allocating for the project. I'm not an expert ... but doesn't that seem like a long time to paint a bridge? That area's been under construction for so long ... from a visitor point of view, you might as well put up a barbed wire fence around the city. Daunting to get through all those orange cones, esp at peak traffic times.