Light emitting diodes illuminate bridge, adding high visibility to los angeles
When Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn flipped a switch to illuminate the Vincent Thomas Bridge for the first time, local residents beamed with pride. For 17 years, residents of San Pedro, CA, had spearheaded a campaign to light the mile-long suspension bridge, which stands majestically above the main channel of Los Angeles Harbor. The bridge serves as the official welcoming monument for the city of Los Angeles, plus doubles as a main, economic conduit for transporting goods throughout the region and entire nation. San Pedro residents held a variety of fundraisers to finance the bridge lighting project, yet continual setbacks occurred, ranging from budget and energy shortages to a pair of peregrine falcons that nested within the bridge. Although these delays thwarted attempts to string lights across the bridge, end results proved beneficial. Advances in lighting technology enabled the ideal solutionlight emitting diodes (LEDs) that were not readily available during the 1988 launch of the lighting project. To illuminate the bridge, workers installed blue 360-LED lamps (made by LEDtronics, Inc., based in Torrance, CA). Blue lamps were selected to make the bridge stand out from amber-colored lights and maritime navigation indicators radiating throughout the harbor. In all, 160 LED fixtures were added to both sides of the bridge80 lamps on the suspension cables surrounding the bridges apex, and the remainder located at deck level. Each LED lamp consumes only 19 w. of power, ensuring energy-efficient operation. The LED lamps also can harness solar power for environmental and cost savings. Thanks to an innovative idea proposed by LEDtronics, 4.5-kW. solar panels, located near the bridge, generate electricity. The electricity is then sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Although the LED lamps do not directly tap into the solar-generated power, the Vincent Thomas Bridge is the first of its kind to leverage solar energy to pay for the cost of operating decorative lighting. The illuminated bridge has become the cornerstone for a companion effort to transform the Los Angeles waterfront into a dynamic area for both leisure and industry. Many bright ideas have resulted from the determination of city leaders and residents, coupled with advances in lighting technology.