TESTING TONIGHT: Officials hope repairs will allow the lights to go back on Arkansas River bridges tonight. littlerock.com

Go downtown this week to get a glimpse of the new decorative lighting on the Junction, Main Street and Clinton Library bridges? Didn;t see any?

There’s a reason.

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The lights were turned off Wednesday because a photo cell installed on the bridges wasn’t working properly. It allows approaching river pilots to turn off the lights for 15 minutes so they won’t be a distraction as barges negotiate passage beneath the bridges.

The problem was discovered Wednesday and lights have been off for two nights. Testing is planned about 7:30 p.m. tonight.  Koontz Electric has installed replacement parts that are believed to have corrected the problem. If the sensor works properly tonight — towboat operators send a signal to the sensor that turns off the lights, a Coast Guard spokesman said — the Coast Guard will be notified and the lights will be restored tonight. Take a look late this evening and you should know if things are back to normal.

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The Coast Guard said it maintains a list of unusual lighting on the river system for pilots. These aren’t the only decorative lights on the country’s extensive river transportation system. When malfunctions occur, the Coast Guard issues notices, which it has done in this case.

The pilots are able, when the system works properly, to turn off the lights an eighth of a mile rom the spans. The installation of new parts was completed today, a city official told me.

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