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Picture of the Week

November 20, 2010
Colored lights of underpass

The glass walls of Union Street underpass in The Dalles, Oregon, are lit from behind with a rotating spectrum of colored light. Copyright Mark B. Gibson/The Dalles Chronicle

Several years ago the City of The Dalles and various agencies created an underpass below Interstate 84, re-connecting the downtown area with the waterfront. Historically the Union Street access linked to a ferry dock, taking goods and passengers accross the Columbia River to Dallesport. These days, a paved trail runs along the river, and barges are sometimes tied to a massive piling support offshore.

This photograph was created to illustrate a story on major projects in the city which were planned and executed in the last 10 years, as a new planning process begins for the next 10 years.

At night, the underpass is a weird place. The inside walls are formed of glass “bricks,” and lights mounted behind the glass rotate through a spectrum of colors: You can see blue, red, yellow, orange, green and even a little pink. Behind the wall, there is humming and odd noises that sound something like a large deck of wooden cards being slowly shuffled from color mix to color mix.

Sidewalks to and from the underpass are lighted with city lighting.

I’ve seen the underpass at night from on the river, floating in my canoe. The effect is a tremedously bright and colorful tunnel, like something that would access heaven, hell or some fairy kingdom. The colors reflect and shimmer off the black waters.

Future plans include replacing the pilings with new docks and a boat morage, in hopes of enticing the sternwheeler and other tour boats to throw anchor and visit downtown The Dalles.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 12, 2010 03:03

    This coming summer I’d love to bring our canoe up and take a gander with you to see all these places–especially this one. It sounds amazing.

    The photo probably doesn’t do it justice! lol

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