Public Response to Bridge Colors

Report No: 73-R2

Published in 1973

About the report:

To determine people's reactions to bridges painted in colors as white, yellow, green, blue, red, brown, black, and aluminum, two test bridges were selected in Charlottesville, Virginia. One was painted a different color each month and the other was kept a single color for comparison. After each painting, interviews were held with three different groups: motorists seeing the bridges, persons living near the bridges, and people with formal aesthetic training. In all, over 1,300 interviews were held for the ten different bridge colors. The results show that colors as white, yellow, light blue, and green are definitely preferred over brown, black, and aluminum by all groups. Red and dark blue were liked by aesthetically trained people, while others thought less highly of them. On the basis of this study, it is recommended that the use of popular colors be considered for highway bridges to replace the unpopular aluminum color prevailing on most steel bridges in Virginia. To aid in making a color selection for any given bridge, a technique has been developed (and explained in the report) to photographically color-alter the picture of a bridge so that color comparisons can be easily and inexpensively made.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • William Zuk

Last updated: February 7, 2024

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