JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UPDATE 10:15 am June 9 - A source close to the FDOT says the rainbow colors will return to the Acosta Bridge tonight. This follows an abrupt change that was made by the JTA on Tuesday night. The colors to celebrate Pride Month were changed to blue. The FDOT would not confirm why the decision was made, and what motivated the change.
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ORIGINAL STORY - The Jacksonville Transportation Authority lit the Acosta Bridge in rainbow colors to honor Pride Month on Monday, June 7.
JTA planned to have the rainbow colors shining through Sunday, June 13, but that plan was cut six days short on Tuesday.
JTA told Action News Jax the Florida Department of Transportation informed JTA the rainbow-colored lighting scheme was out of compliance with its current permit.
A spokesperson with JTA said, “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.”
When Action News Jax reached out to FDOT for a statement, it replied: “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.”
The Acosta Bridge is owned by FDOT; however, the lights are owned and operated by JTA.
Since FDOT is a state run agency that reports directly to Governor Ron DeSantis, we reached out to the governor’s office for comment. They replied, “[We’re] going to have to refer you to DOT/JTA.”
On Wednesday morning, Taryn Fenske, the governor’s communication director said in a tweet, “I want to be very clear that we/our office had no involvement.”
Action News Jax contacted the City of Jacksonville for a copy of the permit, but the city spokeswoman said they do not have the permit for JTA. “They are a separate entity from the City and run completely separate,” she said.
A similar situation happened this month in Sarasota too. FDOT rejected the city’s request to light the John Ringling Causeway Bridge with rainbow colors in honor of Pride Month, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported.
Senator Audrey Gibson, who represents the sixth district, which includes parts of downtown Jacksonville, saw FDOT’s statement to JTA on Twitter and replied: “WHAT?? This is the first I heard and saw this. Was traveling but was back today!! This is outrageous! I want to see the permit and the letter about compliance, the lease and every controlling document!!”
JTA complied with FDOT and by Tuesday evening the bridge was back to its regular color, blue.
The authority says the Acosta Bridge lighting system has ‘hundreds of color schemes’ which are used throughout the year to honor holidays and events and raise awareness for different causes.
A schedule is created each month by the JTA board and on a regular basis the bridge will be lit with multiple colors at once.
Just eight days ago, the bridge was red, white and blue in honor of Memorial Day.
When the Jacksonville Jaguars chose quarterback Trevor Lawrence of Clemson as the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the bridge was decked out in purple and orange — Clemson’s colors.
During the month of February the bridge was lit in red, black and green to honor Black History Month.
For a week in April the bridge was lit with four different colors highlighting ‘Autism Acceptance Month’.
We asked FDOT what about the rainbow color scheme selected for Pride Month was out of compliance, but have not received an answer. If we do, we will update this story with its response.
An event was created in response to the color change on the Acosta Bridge. The organizer says they’ll be walking over the bridge with rainbow flags. It will take place on Saturday. Read more about the event here.
To learn more about the Acosta Bridge and see what other colors will be glowing this month, click here.
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