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Watch the Jacques Cartier Bridge light up for the first time

The controversial and costly illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations, was put to the test as it went live for the first time Wednesday night.

Contentious light show goes live for Montreal's 375th anniversary celebration

It took the collaboration of seven companies, more than 2,800 light fixtures and plenty of trial and error to bring to fruition the $39.5 million project. 6:38

Thousands of Montrealers watched the controversial and costly illumination of the Jacques Cartier Bridge, part of Montreal's 375th anniversary celebrations, go live for the first time Wednesday night.

It took the collaboration of seven companies, more than 2,800 light fixtures and plenty of trial and error to bring to fruition the $39.5 million project, dubbed "Living Connections," in time for the city's big bash.

"We've worked very hard to make it happen tonight," said Éric Fournier, a partner at Moment Factory, the company behind the project.

The bridge lit up in sync with a soundtrack conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and featuring the Montreal Metropolitan Orchestra.

The soundtrack also featured music by local artists and DJs as part of the show

People who watched the bridge illuminate took to social media with their reaction, marvelling at the spectacle. 

Others couldn't help but be impressed, despite the cost.

Many posted pictures from near the bridge. 

For some, the light show was enjoyable, but not worth the price tag.

"Beautiful, but it should not have cost $40 million. Feed the poor and then light the bridge," Christine Marlow posted on CBC's Facebook page.

"It's gorgeous…but why spend millions upon millions of this when there is so much that could have been done with that money to help out city," commented Lisa Vincelette.

While there are skeptics about the project and its high price tag, Fournier believes it will bring Montrealers together and give new life to the bridge connecting the city to Montreal's South Shore.

"We like to compare it to the Eiffel Tower with the lighting system," he said. "It has given it another level of attention and, I think, attraction."

How does it work?

Every evening, the bridge will become illuminated after dusk.

The square lights will change colours to reflect the season and the mood of the city. They can turn 365 different shades of colour, depending on what's happening at that very moment in Montreal.
The Jacques-Cartier Bridge now has lights that can turn 365 shades of colours. (City of Montreal)

"Using a chromatic system, the bridge will always be different from one day to the other, the whole year," Fournier told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

The lighting control system will gather data from the city — weather, traffic and tweets — and then reflect them back to Montreal in real time.

"The same as a waterfall: when you look at a waterfall, it's always beautiful, it's always different," said Gabriel Pontbriand, a creative director and lighting designer on the project.

"Here that was our goal, just to make sure this bridge can be alive."

Fournier said that while the Jacques Cartier Bridge will always be changing colours, organizers have a plan if there is a sudden disaster or death in the city.

"We'll make sure the bridge is not going crazy during a very bad moment," he said. 
The project to illuminate the Jacques Cartier Bridge was announced in 2015. (CBC)

Fournier added that he's excited that Montrealers will now see the bridge lit up.

"We like to go out, we like to bring people outside and essentially live something together."

With files from Simon Nakonechny and CBC Montreal's Daybreak

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