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Vincent Thomas Bridge about to see the light?

Posted 07-OCT-04

Vincent Thomas Bridge about to see the light? After years of delays, the grass-roots effort to outline the San Pedro landmark could be completed by December. Project originally started in 1988.

Will San Pedro finally see the light?

After more than 16 years of delays, preliminary work is under way to install decorative blue LED lights on San Pedro's Vincent Thomas Bridge.

The light fixtures will begin to go up in about two weeks.

But will the bridge be lighted in time to celebrate the bridge's 41st anniversary on Nov. 15 as planned?

Probably not.

"There was a little glitch with Caltrans," said Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. "It sounds like the bridge will be lit in early December."

The latest problems involved repairs needed for the bridge's travelers -- the platforms used to move workers around the bridge.

Hahn said plans to fix the equipment have been expedited since she visited the director of the California Department of Transportation in Sacramento and stressed the importance of the $800,000 bridge lighting project to the community.

The installation is being done by Pier Electric in conjunction with other agencies.

Two South Bay companies -- Ledtronics of Torrance and FarLight of Wilmington -- will provide the energy-efficient lighting along the roadway and cables on the 1.1-mile-long local landmark.

"This will be a great showcase," said Robert Tudhope, president of FarLight, an 8-year-old business. "We want to do it right and we want it to be everything it can be. You see the bridge in movies and television."

While a May 2002 trial run using three lights prompted some to question whether the LEDs will be very visible, experts say that with the number of lights multiplied -- about 160 altogether -- the project will work.

"It will have a wide field of viewing and a 180-degree distribution pattern, so you'll see it from all sides," Tudhope said.

Jordon Papanier, marketing manager for Ledtronics, said even the test lights were visible from Friendship Park. The blue lights, he said, "should stand out well against all the yellow light in the harbor."

The money was raised through individual donations as well as funding provided by corporations and the port and city of Los Angeles.

The bridge lighting project started in 1988 as a grass-roots community effort to outline the span linking San Pedro to Terminal Island with traditional electric "twinkle lights."

The project, however, encountered numerous unexpected setbacks through the years.

Most recently, environmental concerns arose over a new design scrapping the small lights in favor of installing aggressive laser beams pointing skyward.

Environmentalists said the vertical lights would endanger migrating birds.

The problem was solved when Louis Dominguez, president of the Vincent Thomas Bridge Lighting Committee, suggested going back to the simpler original idea of outlining the bridge with small lights, but this time using solar power combined with new LED technology.

LEDs -- light emitting diodes -- use about 12 times less power than traditional lights. They radiate very small but brilliant light and are being increasingly used for traffic signals, computer displays and control panels.

The lights can last tens of thousands of hours and are impervious to heat, cold, shock and vibration.

And with the solar power component, the Vincent Thomas Bridge lighting project will be a model of environmentally friendly technology in California, Dominguez said.

Glass-paneled, interactive kiosks highlighting bridge history, LED technology and the names of those who donated $100 or more to the project will be included in the first leg of San Pedro's new waterfront promenade near the Vincent Thomas Bridge, which was named for the area's former assemblyman.

A community celebration will be held to turn on the lights for the first time, Hahn said.

Originally, the project was expected to cost $300,000 and be completed in time for the bridge's 30th anniversary in November 1993.


With an average LED life span of 100,000-plus hours (11 years), LEDs operate reliably year-after-year. Solid-state design renders LEDs impervious to electrical and mechanical shock, vibration, frequent switching and environmental fluctuation. Integrated current-limited resistors prevent short-circuiting. LED lamps use only 10% - 20% of the energy consumed by equivalent incandescent lamps that when combined with their maintenance-free operation results in substantial cost savings.

LEDtronics, manufactures LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) Lamps for a wide variety of applications from decorative lighting, Signage, panel mounts, Industrial lighting to theme parks. Our product line encompasses an array of direct incandescent replacement Based LED lamps and bulbs, Low cost Snap-in and Relampable Panel Mount LED lamps, for all standard electrical bases and voltages.

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.

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For Technical Information Contact:
Jordon Papanier at 310-534-1505

Link to:Daily Breeze
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