Birmingham’s Rainbow Light Tunnel glows on with approved updates

Rainbow Tunnel
Look at those colors! (Rev Birmingham)

The Magic City closes out the month of May with colorful news. The Rainbow Light Tunnel will keep on shining thanks to an agreement passed by The Birmingham City Council.

The Birmingham City Council held its weekly meeting on Tuesday, May 31. On the list of yays or nays was the Rainbow Tunnel Agreement.

What is it? It’s a resolution authorizing Birmingham’s Mayor to execute and deliver an agreement with REV Birmingham, Inc. to provide the repair, maintenance and continued operation of the artistic LED displays at 14th, 18th, 19th and 20th Streets.

“Place-making projects like Birmingham Lights are drivers of vibrancy, but they do require ongoing maintenance. We were fortunate to have forward-thinking partners in the Community Foundation who built in several years of maintenance funding to the original project.

Even when projects do have built-in maintenance funding, it’s usually for a set period of time, and we knew that we would eventually have to seek new funding sources to continue maintaining this asset for downtown. The funding approved today is for maintenance needs to ensure lights are working properly, especially as we prepare to welcome World Games visitors.”

Statement from REV Birmingham

Recap on the Rainbow Light Tunnel

Whether you live in downtown Birmingham, or only read about it in the news, you likely know about the Rainbow Light Tunnel in the historic train underpasses at 14th, 18th, 19th, and 20th Streets that connect the north and south sides of downtown Birmingham. 

The REV Birmingham project transformed dark historic train underpasses from pedestrian barriers into attractive, accessible paths that are now a draw to downtown. Birmingham Lights, the collective name for the artistic rainbow lighting installations, was made possible by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s Community Catalyst Fund donors, S&W Electric and the City of Birmingham. 

The first underpass to get the lighting treatment was 18th Street in 2013 with the rest completed by 2014. The first installation was designed by San Antonio light artist Bill FitzGibbons and the following three by Birmingham lighting designer John Gill.

The Big Picture

“Birmingham Lights is a transformative project that created vibrancy, began shifting perceptions about what is now a thriving Parkside district, and helped inspire additional lighting projects like 20/59 and Regions Field. Other cities have also drawn inspiration from Birmingham’s project and have reached out to REV about the design and management of Birmingham Lights.

The lights made these four underpasses into places that feel authentically Birmingham. Lots of photos and videos are still taken and street parties have been hosted there because the rainbow lights are now an unmistakable part of downtown Birmingham’s identity.”

Statement from REV Birmingham

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Patience Itson
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