Bright Idea? Environmentalists Worry Lights On Proposed I Street Bridge Could Harm Fish

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Plans are in the works to replace the I Street Bridge, which connects Sacramento to West Sacramento. But while the bridge would bring convenience to pedestrians and drivers, some people worry it could adversely affect fish.

I Street Bridge is more than 100 years old and the city says it’s time to build a bigger and better one. Plans call for building a new span just upstream from the current bridge.

“The biggest benefit of the new bridge is it will provide much friendlier access for walking, biking and also increase operational improvements for motorists,” said Sacramento Department of Public Works spokesman Jesse Gothan, P.E.

But before the bridge can be built, builders must address environmental impacts.

Dozens of people turned up at Thursday night’s meeting and many had a specific concern: the bridge lights.

“Every fish that goes out to the ocean from the Sacramento River has to swim underneath that bridge,” said one person.

So how could bridge lighting kill fish? Some experts say lights can disrupt fish migration. The fish also slow down to feed because bright lights make them think it’s daytime, making it easier for predators to see the young fish.

“It’s possible to do a good lighting design and not have an environmental impact,” said one person.

But some people say there is a solution.

“Maybe deflecting the lights. Aiming them up keeping as much of the light off the river as possible is a prudent way to go,” said one person.

Environmentalists hope that by shining a light on problems now the new bridge will be built fish-friendly.

“Fish populations are not good and anything we can do to improve those populations I think we should give it a shot,” said one person.

The estimated cost of the project is $160 million and it’s expected to be completed in about four years.

More from Lisa Meadows
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