photo c. Terry Cowgill
Certainly, every contractor’s nightmare is hearing a customer say, “that’s not the color I picked,” especially when it is, in fact, the color they picked. The city of Great Barrington, Massachusetts is having that very debate. Is it pink? Is it mauve? Is that really the color we chose, and why can’t we find out for sure?
The 1931 bridge, which spans the Housatonic River, had been brown for quite some time – it’s known as the Brown Bridge, even now that it won’t be brown. When it was time to repaint, the city’s “selectboard,” on the recommendation of Great Barrington’s Design Advisory Committee, voted 4-1 to change the color to “primer red,” a hue that’s reminiscent of the color on the Golden Gate Bridge, a mere 3,000 miles west.
The bridge was primed in gray, and then coated with the vote-getting primer red. Or … was it? They wanted the bridge to stand out, but to some Great Barrington eyes, it looks pink. To one member of the Design Committee, it’s mauve; she describes it as a purplish pink. Still others said they were waiting for the second coat to go on, as the gray primer underneath may have influenced the look of the topcoat.
While you might be able to present your customer with their original choice, they can’t even do that. The fan deck was supplied by the state, which required that it be returned immediately after the color was selected, so the city doesn’t have a way to match the bridge with the swatch. The good news, depending (literally) on how you look at it, is that the Massachusetts DOT says yes, the color selected is the color that was delivered. Now, it’s up to the eye of the beholder.
As there has been a bridge of one form or other spanning river since 1735, most likely this won’t be the last time it’s up for discussion. But we’ll cross that one when we come to it.