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.