Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge lights back on, but Omaha official says more repairs needed

Taken out by a vandal earlier this month, the display lights on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge are back on, but not fully repaired.
Published: Dec. 23, 2021 at 12:24 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - On Dec. 6, lights on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge went dark, and neighbors quickly learned it was no accident.

Riverfront resident Michael Boone said he was out of town when it happened.

“A relative told us they’d been vandalized and they were out, ” he said.

Boone said it was extremely disappointing, especially because the view of the bridge inspired him to move to that area.

The Omaha Parks and Recreation Department issued a crestfallen memo to the public, alerting them about the crime:

“It is with great disappointment that we announce recent vandalism to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. Therefore, the programmable LED lights on the upper portion of the bridge will be off for the foreseeable future. The main lights on the lower portion of the bridge were able to be repaired and will be activated for continued access to the bridge.”

Omaha Parks and Recreation Department

Sidney Moore, the Special Projects Coordinator for the department, echoed that: “The bridge is a very iconic piece for our city. For it to not shine bright for even a day is really sad.”

Within a week, Omaha Police arrested a single person on charges of the destruction of property, and it caught folks by surprise.

Boone said he thought the perpetrators may have been a group of teens goofing off.

“To be honest I thought it was some kids doing stuff they weren’t supposed to do. Turns out it was not a kid and somebody with a reputation, I guess,” he said.

David Orlawski, 42, was taken into custody in connection to the vandalism Dec. 11. He had an outstanding felony warrant for a similar crime in Council Bluffs and the damage he allegedly left behind was not insignificant.

“It takes a team of people to get it back up and running — and it’s not just the flip of a switch,” Moore said.

The city doesn’t have the full price tag yet for what the repairs will cost, but right now Moore’s team and additional contractors are working to complete everything.

Although all the lights are back on, no new programs can be uploaded for light shows; the only working programs are what they had before the bridge was vandalized. Still, bridge fans and nearby residents tell 6 News they’re just happy to see it lit back up in time for Christmas and appreciate the effort of all who have been involved.

“I give them credit for getting the lights back up as soon as they did. I figured with the supply situation, there’d be something missing that would take a long time to get, but they were pretty diligent and quick about getting them fixed,” Boone said.

Moore said Omaha Parks & Rec is working on a way to make sure this scenario is never possible again.

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