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Moonrise over the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in the early hours of June 21. Lights began adding color to all parts of the bridge a week earlier, just as the CWS got underway

Bob the Bridge will shine in red, white and blue all over for the Fourth of July, thanks to a fancy new set of lights.

Omaha and Council Bluffs recently upgraded the entire lighting system on the span across the Missouri River. That gave the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge new LED lights and new digital controls. It makes the bridge brighter and allows it to glow in shifting color in its entirety. Previously, only the lights atop its tower were color-changing LEDs.

"The view of the Bob Kerrey Bridge from TD Ameritrade Park is spectacular," Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement Tuesday. "The bridge is one of the signatures of Omaha's skyline, especially at night and this upgrade is especially beautiful."

The new lights also should save energy and possibly money, because LEDs use less electricity and last longer than their predecessor bulbs.

Installed along with additional security cameras, the brighter lights also are meant to make the bridge safer.

“The old system was 10 years old,” said Brook Bench, Omaha parks and recreation director. “It was getting to the point where we were having a lot of lights burn out.”

The upgrade cost $720,000, Bench said. The money came from a joint fund set up by Omaha and Council Bluffs to pay for such bridge-related expenses as the required annual underwater inspections, repainting and lights.

The switch was flipped in time for the College World Series opening ceremonies June 14. The bridge can be lit in myriad colors to mark a variety of causes and occasions, including glowing in the hues of Old Glory in the twilight’s last gleaming all this week for Independence Day.

Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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