Residents unhappy with Sai Van Bridge’s new flashing colorful lights

Many local residents are unhappy with the transformation of the Sai Van Bridge, which now includes flashing, colored lights placed on its towers.

The new lighting system was first activated Tuesday evening and went viral on social media, with many videos of the lights surfacing on many platforms.

Netizens’ opinions on the lights’ novelty were immediate, with most making jokes or expressing anger.

Comments included, “How much did they spend on this?”, “Why can’t we be normal?”, and “Before was elegant, now is just lousy and pathetic!”. Some netizens also expressed concerns over how the lights, in their intensity, affected drivers.

Others went further, stating the lights resemble the Chinese representation of hell.

Others expressed sadness over the loss of the bridge’s former “golden arches.”

For many years, the bridge enjoyed the nickname “McDonald’s bridge.” Now, netizens think it “resembles something from a mainland village.”

The Times found almost half of about 3,000 Facebook reactions were “angry” emoji faces, followed by “laughing” and “sad” ones.

The Times approached several people for comment about their criticisms.

Central District Community Advisory Board member António Monteiro told the Times that he believes that when residents saw the bridge undergoing maintenance, they were expecting general renovations, given it is almost two decades old.

“Public opinion speaks loudly,” he added, “and I believe that most consider the bridge’s new aesthetic negatively in comparison with its former beauty. Additionally, people view these changes as distracting for drivers, as well as light polluting.”

Monteiro also noted previous criticism about excessive light from some buildings on the Hengqin bank.

“It must be even more surprising for the population to see this sudden, very bright lighting, this time on the Macau bank,” he said.

He also noted that lighting colors change at a very high frequency, causing several people to comment that it looked like they were living in a nightclub.

The same community advisor also noted that, aside from the authorities’ decision to enact this change, he believes the population is currently very concerned by the existing challenges related to traffic and transportation.

He admitted to already hearing strong opinions of disappointment, with people remarking, “Instead of working to transform the bridge into a rainbow, it would make much more sense to invest in solutions for public parking, improve the parking meters, the taxi service and the mobile applications to call taxis. These are the very concerning problems for both locals and tourists that need to be addressed.”

He said it was difficult to understand the purpose behind the “aesthetic change, as well as its timing.

Joe Chan, environmental activist and president of the Macau Green Students Union, told the Times the change is “a devastating example of light pollution.”

“It’s not necessary to change the light decoration of the bridge. The way it was before was simple and sufficient,” Chan said.

He noted his group would not mind if the color of the bridge’s light changed to mark special occasions, such as Women’s Day or Ocean Day.

“But we are firmly against the idea that we use the bridge or its lights as an advertisement board,” said Chan.

“The high frequency with which the lights flash is irritating and annoying. It hurts the eyes of citizens and easily distracts drivers, which increases the risk of accidents,” he said.

He saw no benefit to the change apart from “luring more tourists through flashy attractions. But, sadly, this just ruins Macau’s culture as a leisure city.”

For Chan, local people’s strong social media opinions prove they are unwilling to “sacrifice their living standards just for the sake of earning money.”

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