A STUNNING lighting scheme could represent the bright future of Southampton's Itchen Bridge - and provide the city with its Wow' factor at last.

A study has been launched into ways to illuminate the drab structure and transform it into a city landmark - and here's one option courtesy of the Daily Echo artists.

Civic leaders say the sky is the limit when it comes to ideas for the "enhanced lighting".

And it comes as the Daily Echo recently revealed that a laser light show for the Civic Centre clock tower has been scrapped.

So could the lights on the Itchen Bridge represent another chance for Southampton to grasp a much sought-after Wow factor?

Councillor Gavin Dick, Cabinet member for transport, said he didn't want to rule out any lighting scheme for the bridge.

"We've got no limit. It's an open book at the moment to see what could possibly happen.

"We're quite happy to bring in the private sector."

Cllr Dick said the bridge should be a landmark to enhance the image of Southampton.

The new lighting will be combined with higher barriers to deter jumpers from committing suicide.

Cllr Dick said suicide prevention measures would use the "latest technology and information" to limit the number of people jumping off the bridge.

As reported in the Daily Echo, city artists have already called for a make-over for the 28-metre high, 800-metre long, road bridge which carries seven million vehicles a year.

They wanted to transform the grey 62,000 tonne structure into various different forms of colour, light and moving art in a bid to rival the appeal of the Brooklyn Bridge in Manhattan, Humber Bridge in Hull and Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland.

The new Conservative administration has approved the £10,000 six-month feasibility study into the lights from a £1.5m maintenance programmed.

The major works over the next two years, earmarked in the Lib Dem budget set in March, will include access improvements to enable bearing replacement, street lighting replacement, drainage and footway works, and bridge deck joint maintenance.

A six-year inspection found that although the bridge was in general good shape, delaying the works could force its closure within one year.

Disruptions to traffic and pedestrians using the bridge are expected to be minimal, highways chiefs said.

A report to the Cabinet said: "The Itchen Bridge must remain safe for use and fit for purpose, and will as a result continue to provide a regular source of income through the toll collection."

Tolls have raised £50m since the bridge was opened in 1977 although the council is still paying off the £12.2m construction costs.

However, transport chiefs are looking into the detail and safety of scrapping the toll for motorcyclists.

Southampton Coroner Keith Wiseman said he had recorded up to five suicides from the bridge in the past few years.

"It has recently become a slightly more enthusiastic pastime than before," he said, adding he supported any measures to deter jumpers.