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Pakistani American Helps Turn Los Angeles Harbor Bridge into Nighttime Star

Posted 01-APR-05

On January 30, 2005, 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 - Blue LEDs, which weren’t available in 1988 when the campaign began to light the bridge. The Blue LED lamps that crown the bridge’s cables were provided by Southern California-located LEDtronics Inc., owned by Pakistani-American Pervaiz Lodhie. “They work as we expected, but seeing all the LED lamps lit up was amazing,” remarked Lodhie.

Poised elegantly above the main channel of the Los Angeles Harbor, the Vincent Thomas Bridge serves a multitude of functions in the local community and beyond. It is the official welcoming monument for the City of Los Angeles. As the 3rd longest suspension bridge in California, behind the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, it is a source of local pride. And, the Vincent Thomas Bridge plays an integral part in the economies of Los Angeles, Southern California and the United States as it is the main conduit through which goods flow from the Los Angeles Harbor to the nation’s network of highways and stores.

Lodhie was brought into the project by Lighting Design Alliance of Long Beach who, on the behalf of the Vincent Thomas Bridge Lighting Committee, investigated LEDs as a viable solution for lighting the bridge. LEDs are small but strikingly bright lights that use only a fraction of the electricity incandescent lights consume. Additionally, they operate for years and are nearly indestructible. For over five years, Lodhie collaborated with community leaders, civil agencies and environmentalists to develop an LED light that would be acceptable to all parties. Several variations of LED lamps were tested before the solar-powered, 360-Blue LED lamp received the go-ahead.

To Lodhie, the project was less a lighting job and more of an opportunity to help Southern California. The effort to light the Vincent Thomas Bridge began in 1988 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 tins in area stores. Even with all the frustrations, community support for the project never wavered. Their determination wasn’t lost on Lodhie. “I felt privileged to be a part of such an event in Southern California, and wanted to do what I could to make it happen.” More interested in helping to create a positive image for the region than making a profit, Lodhie’s LEDtronics developed and furnished the LED lamps at cost. Lodhie’s reward is the sense of accomplishment and connection with the community. “Feedback has been fantastic and confirmed that what we did was appreciated by everyone in the area.”
The Vincent Thomas Bridge is visible to diners at the nearby Ports-of-Call restaurants, vacationers onboard the Princess Cruise liners, and to all vessels entering or exiting the main channel of the Los Angeles Harbor, the busiest port in the United States and the eighth busiest in the world. And with the addition of its sparkling blue lights, the Vincent Thomas Bridge will undoubtedly enchant tourists and mariners alike to become an internationally recognizable icon for both the Los Angeles region and the harbor, encouraging tourism and commercial investment. Already, the illuminated bridge is the cornerstone of an ongoing revitalization effort aimed at transforming the waterfront into a dynamic destination for leisure and industry. More importantly, the Vincent Thomas Bridge represents what can be achieved with a little technology, a helping of generosity and a lot of determination.

For additional information on how to incorporate LEDs into your designs, 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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Link to bulb used on the Vincent Thomas Bridge: BSD 1928

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