A railway bridge in Leeds is set to be repainted in rainbow colours as part of repair and strengthening work but also in support of the LGB&T community and in celebration of Freedom of expression.
Work on the bridge, which crosses Lower Briggate in the city centre, will begin later this month and will be redecorated in a bespoke paint design thanks to funding raised by the local LGB&T Community and Leeds City Council.
The bridge, which carries trains traveling north from Leeds rail station, will also see vital engineering work carried out as part of the ongoing Railway Upgrade Plan to create a more reliable railway for passengers.
Work starts on site on Monday, 26 September until February next year, although there is no impact on either road or rail services.
Neil Henry, area director for Network Rail, said: “Work at the bridge on Lower Briggate, which carries a huge number of vital passenger services to the north of Leeds, is essential to keep rail services reliable and forms part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. We’re delighted that our stakeholders want the bridge to become an iconic one for the city and were more than happy to work with them on the new colour scheme.”
Thomas Wales, ‘Leeds Freedom Bridge’ project leader and LGB&T campaigner, said: “The new rainbow colour scheme is based on a variation of the Freedom Flag as designed by San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker in 1978. Each colour represents something different, from Life and Harmony to Nature and Spirit, it is also a scheme that has been adopted internationally to celebrate freedom in sexuality and gender identity in our city. It is destined to become a landmark we can all be proud of.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy executive member for culture, said: “The plans for this bridge represent a tremendous show of support for the city’s LGB&T community. Not only will the rainbow bridge be an eye-catching addition to what is already a lively and eclectic part of Leeds, it will also make a huge statement to our many visitors that here, we embrace and celebrate diversity and the contribution it makes to ensuring Leeds is such a warm, welcoming and successful city.”
Lower Briggate’s Viaduct Showbar owner and Leeds LGB&T campaigner Micheal Rothwell, commented that: “The ‘Leeds Freedom Bridge’ project has been a long time coming, the initial idea came from when a group of the Leeds LGB&T Community visited Liverpool in order to see how they represented their LGB&T community within their city back in 2012. I’m extremely pleased by Network Rail and Leeds City Council’s overwhelming support for this project, it is also a huge testament the LGB&T Community and to fellow LGB&T campaigners like Thomas Wales and Ross MCCusker who have really helped kept this project alive.”