Folks in San Pedro don't give up easily. Take the bridge lights. Launched more
than a decade ago, the town's grass-roots campaign to string decorative lights
on the Vincent Thomas Bridge has met with a series of setbacks and defeats.
First it was money. Then a design snag. Finally, three years ago, concerns
raised by environmentalists killed the plan, with state officials ruling that
the bright “skytracker” beams being proposed would endanger migrating
But supporters now say they've found the solution: Use energy-efficient LED
lights that run on solar power.
A trial run to see how the tiny blue lights would look on the bridge is set
for 9 p.m. Wednesday. Only a small number of lights will be installed for the
test, but residents should be able to see them from points southwest of the
“They've been trying to do this for the last five years,” said
Pervaiz Lodhie, president of Torrance-based Ledtronics Inc., which is helping
with the project.
Make that more than 10 years.
Supporters, who organized bridge walks and coin drives in the early 1990s,
originally hoped to light up the bridge for its 1993 anniversary celebration.
Later, they aimed to flip the switch for the city's New Year's celebration in
The new lighting technology, supporters believe, will finally provide the breakthrough
“The technology has changed,” said Chip Israel, who heads Lighting
Design Alliance of Long Beach, the design firm for the project. “Two years
ago we could not have done this.”
Also assisting in the project are Caltrans, DWP and the Los Angeles Department
of Cultural Affairs. The bridge is Los Angeles' official citywide welcoming
Ledtronics lights — or LEDs — are more efficient than standard
lights and are being used locally in traffic signals.
A traditional traffic light uses 70 to 90 watts per light, while LED lights
use 7 to 10 watts. The lights also last up to 11 years and require little or
The lights are based on light emitting diode technology, or LED.
“We're trying to beautify the Vincent Thomas Bridge as the gateway (to
Los Angeles),” Lodhie said.
Backers hope the 6,060-foot-long bridge linking San Pedro to Terminal Island
will be outlined with blue lights by September, when a tall ship festival is
planned for San Pedro.
For this week's trial run, a small section of lights will be installed on the
southwest end of the bridge, beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday. They will be turned
on about 9 p.m. so officials can see how far the lights project from different
“We're going to test the visibility distance,” Lodhie said. “We'll
have different people standing at different points watching.”
An initial test using the low-power, environmentally friendly lights two weeks
ago looked promising, he said.
“We're going with a blue color so it stands out among the other high-pressure
(amber-colored) sodium lights in the harbor,” Lodhie said. “Everyone
was concerned the LED lights would disappear, but they didn't wash out even
with the thousands of sodium lights in the harbor.”
Residents have purchased bridge key chains and hats, walked across the bridge
for $2 each and emptied their coin purses to raise money for the project. Bolstered
by corporate and city donations, the bridge lighting fund now stands at about
$400,000, but it is not clear how much the LED project will cost.
“Residents have been very, very patient with the whole process,”
What's Next? Residents can view a small sample of the new lights from points
southwest of the Vincent Thomas Bridge beginning at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Lights
are expected to remain on for about an hour.
Publish Date:Monday April
© Copyright 2002 The Copley Press Inc.