Jerusalem Chords bridge to light up welcome for Trump
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Jerusalem Chords bridge to light up welcome for Trump

US president unlikely to actually witness display on iconic span at entrance to city

The Chord's Bridge lit up in welcome for US President Donald Trump, May 22, 2017. (Jerusalem Municipality)
The Chord's Bridge lit up in welcome for US President Donald Trump, May 22, 2017. (Jerusalem Municipality)

US President Donald Trump isn’t expected to take the main highway from Tel Aviv into Jerusalem during any part of his trip, but if he ditched his helicopter for a car (and came a few hours late Monday), he would be greeted at the city’s entrance with a message beamed onto the city’s iconic Chord’s Bridge.

In honor of Trump’s arrival, sound and light wizards will flash red, white and blue stripes on the massive cables holding up the bridge. The word “welcome” will be spelled out in English on the bridge’s vertical ascent.

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the city’s unification, the bridge’s massive cables will display ascending Jewish stars and blue and white stripes meant to recall the Israeli flag.

The display employs 4,000 pixels of light across 68 cables stretching 118 meters high. Although the large bridge plaza has doubled as a stage for Israel’s Independence Day concerts and fireworks, the addition of bulbs is a first, according to the Jerusalem municipality.

Inaugurated in 2008, the Chords Bridge serves as a flyover for both the light rail and pedestrians crossing the busy intersection near the main entrance to Jerusalem at the terminus of Route 1, a major artery leading to Tel Aviv.

Constructed of steel, concrete, stone and glass, the bridge includes a futuristic pedestrian illuminated walkway. Despite its hefty weight at 4,200 tons, the bridge’s design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava presents an image of loftiness that plays with the concept of the lightness of illumination. The new system, which is controlled by software, is reminiscent of the glittering lights on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but only in Jerusalem can it spell out words, according to project managers.

The installation, which was initiated by the Jerusalem municipality, involves a team of engineers who have been discretely overseeing the attachment of the lights over the past two weeks after sunset. A test run was visible to passersby late Saturday night — early Sunday morning.

When asked the price of the system, a municipality official declined to specify, saying simply, it is “a lot of money.” The system is waterproof and will remain installed on the bridge indefinitely.

Trump is expected to arrive in Israel on Monday shortly after noon, and is expected to take a helicopter into the city, where he will spend some 28 hours, minus a side jaunt to Bethlehem.

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