This Florida city was forced to ditch bridge’s rainbow-color scheme. Here’s why

Jacksonville Transportation Authority says FDOT found lights ‘out of compliance’ with permit

Photo: Fred Ortyl & Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After planning to keep the Acosta Bridge lit up in rainbow colors throughout the week for Pride Month, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority on Tuesday said it was told by the Florida Department of Transportation that its color scheme was “out of compliance” with its existing permit, according to News 6 partner WJXT.

A statement from JTA’s spokesperson reads: “This afternoon, the FDOT informed the JTA that our scheduled color scheme for the Acosta Bridge is out of compliance with our existing permit. The JTA will comply accordingly.”

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News4Jax requested the permit for lighting on the Acosta Bridge from FDOT. We are waiting for their response.

On Tuesday night, the bridge returned to its usual blue color. Here’s a photo:

Acosta Bridge photo 06/08/21.

Despite the notification from FDOT, the JTA told News 6 partner WJXT it would light the bridge in rainbow colors again Wednesday night. A spokeswoman for FDOT said the rainbow color scheme was not previously submitted and approved “in accordance with bridge lighting policy,” but FDOT “has since authorized” JTA to resume the rainbow lights “as it is obviously a matter of broad community interest.”

It’s unclear what changed, but a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis told News4Jax the rainbow lights would return Wednesday night and would remain for the rest of the week as JTA originally planned.

A statement from FDOT reads: “Aesthetic lighting on the Acosta Bridge is owned and operated by JTA. Questions about their lighting system, function and permit should be referred to JTA.”

News4Jax spoke with a spokesperson for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said the governor’s office had nothing to do with the decision on the lighting. The spokesperson said it’s a local issue that’s under investigation.

Notably, a story written by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, states that FDOT had rejected a request from Sarasota to light the Ringling Causeway Bridge with rainbow lights. It’s a request that the state has approved for other lighting displays.

It’s not uncommon to see the Acosta Bridge lit up in different colors throughout the year. On the Fourth of July, and most recently on Memorial Day weekend, the bridge was lit in red, white and blue.

When it was announced that Trevor Lawrence was coming to the Jaguars on April 29, the bridge was lit orange and purple -- the colors for Clemson University, where Lawrence played as quarterback in college.

Also in April, the JTA highlighted Autism Acceptance Month, lighting the bridge in these colors:

Each month, JTA compiles a schedule to recognize different holidays, monthly awareness campaigns, special events, college and professional football games and other observances.

Here was the schedule as it was planned:

  • June 7-13: Pride Month -- Rainbow
  • June 18: Sickle Cell Awareness -- Red
  • June 19: Juneteenth -- Red, Black and Green
  • June 20-24: PTSD Awareness Month -- Teal
  • June 25-27: 100th Anniversary of the Acosta Bridge opening -- Yellow and Acosta Blue
  • July 1-4: Independence Day Holiday Week -- Red, White and Blue

A protest is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday. Protesters plan to bring Pride flags and either walk or drive across the bridge.

About the Authors:

Brie Isom joined the News4JAX team in January 2021 after spending three years covering news in South Bend, Indiana.