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LEDs Light Up LA's Harbor Bridge

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When Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn threw the switch and the lights sparkled for the first time on the Vincent Thomas Bridge it was hard to determine who beamed brighter: The new blue LED lights or the residents of San Pedro, California, who after 17 years of setbacks finally saw their bridge adorned with the lights they had long envisioned. Funding, energy shortages, migrating birds and a pair of nesting peregrine falcons had all thwarted previous attempts to string lights across the mile-long span. While frustrating, the delays proved beneficial in the end. Advances in lighting technology enabled the ideal solution -- LEDs, which were unavailable in 1988 when the campaign began to light the bridge. The Blue LED lamps that top the bridge's suspension cables were provided by Los Angeles-adjacent LEDtronics Inc. "They work as we expected, but seeing all the LED lamps lit up was amazing," remarked Pervaiz Lodhie, president of LEDtronics.

Poised high above the main channel of the Los Angeles Harbor, the Vincent Thomas Bridge plays several roles in the local community and beyond. It is the official welcoming monument for the City of Los Angeles. As the third longest suspension bridge in California, behind the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, it is source of local pride. Additionally, the Vincent Thomas Bridge plays an integral part in the economies of Los Angeles, southern California and the United States as a whole. It is the main conduit through which goods flow from the Los Angeles Harbor, the busiest port in the country and the eighth busiest in the world, to the nation's network of highways, stores and consumers. The effort to light the Vincent Thomas Bridge began as a grass-roots effort by the residents of San Pedro who held a variety of fund raisers from organizing bridge walks and selling commemorative items to placing collection cans in local stores. Even with all the setbacks, community support for the project never wavered.

LEDtronics was brought into the project by Lighting Design Alliance of Long Beach, CA who, on the behalf of the Vincent Thomas Bridge Lighting Committee, investigated LEDs as a viable solution for lighting the bridge. Jordon Papanier, LEDtronics' Marketing Manager, first met with the Committee in the spring of 1999 to demonstrate LED bulbs and introduced them to LED technology and its benefits. For over five years, LEDtronics collaborated with community leaders, civil agencies and environmentalists to develop an LED light that would be acceptable to all parties.

Pervaiz Lodhie of LEDtronics proposed the innovative idea of implementing solar-energy in tandem with the LED lights. A 4.5-kilowatt solar-panel system located near the bridge generates electricity that is then sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. While the LED lights themselves do not directly tap into the solar-generated power, the Vincent Thomas Bridge is the first of its kind to leverage solar-generated power to pay for the cost of operating decorative lighting. A total of 160 LED fixtures light both sides of the bridge, 80 LEDtronics units affixed to the apex of the suspension cables along with an additional 80 located at deck level. Each LED fixture consumes only 19.5 Watts of power, making LEDs the perfect complement to solar energy. Several variations of LED lamps were tested before the solar-powered, environmentally friendly Blue 360-LED lamp received the go-ahead. Blue was chosen because it would standout amid the amber-colored lights and maritime navigation indicators in the Los Angeles Harbor.

Visible to the nearby communities as well as vacationers at the Princess Cruises' terminal and vessels entering or exiting the main channel of the Los Angeles Harbor, the Vincent Thomas Bridge with its sparkling blue lights will enchant tourists and mariners alike and, undoubtedly, become an internationally recognizable icon for the Los Angeles region. The illuminated bridge is already the cornerstone of an effort aimed at transforming the waterfront into a dynamic area for both for leisure and industry. Most importantly, the Vincent Thomas Bridge represents what can be achieved with a lot of determination and a little technology.

For additional information, contact LEDtronics toll free at 1-800-579-4875, telephone 310-534-1505, fax at 310-534-1424, click here to email us or mail at LEDtronics Inc., 23105 Kashiwa Court, Torrance, CA 90505.

For Technical Information Contact:
Jordon Papanier at 310-534-1505
E-Mail: click here
Link to: Huntington Beach News
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