BAKERSVILLE: Bridge project clears major hurdle

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Artistic street lights part of beautification effort by Bakersville Improvement Group

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BAKERSVILLE – A public arts project that will enhance the appearance of the bridge at the entrance to Bakersville is moving forward. 

The project consists of the creation of six artistic street lighting sculptures for the bridge, which is located on North Carolina 226 entering Bakersville and is one of the first things visitors see on their way into town from Spruce Pine. 

The bridge project is part of continued beautification efforts in Bakersville. The Bakersville Improvement Group, or BIG, has sponsored several public arts projects to stimulate interest in the downtown area. 

BIG hopes the bridge project will not only showcase local art but also showcase the unique features of the area and drive home the area’s motto as “home of the arts.”

The six artistic street lights will be used for illumination as well as beautification.

The project recently moved past a major hurdle in the form of approval by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

Andy Palmer, a local artist who has helped spearhead the project, announced this past November the NCDOT had tentatively approved the project.

The approval from the state came after a preliminary review by the NCDOT Right of Way Art Committee. 

“DOT has allowed us to do the project,” Palmer said. “We’ll have to run it by them at each step just to make sure it’s in compliance.”

Local artists are encouraged to begin considering submitting applications for the project. 

The selection criteria will be based on several factors including artistic excellence, community development, location, safety, durability and maintenance costs.

The final selection will be made by a panel consisting of BIG members, Bakersville Town Council members and local artists. 

The tentative project budget is set at $16,000. Palmer said the next hurdle to clear is finding the funding for the project, but he added he expects BIG to manage that side of the project through local fundraising.

“Once the project is actually paid for, I can start putting it out there to folks who wish to come up with the design and fabrication of the lights and structures,” Palmer said. “That will be the exciting part, I think.”