Vincent Thomas Bridge sparkles with solar-powered LEDs

Feb. 1, 2005
After only 17 years of planning, the Vincent Thomas Bridge at the Port of Los Angeles has been lit by 160 solar-powered blue LEDs.
The Vincent Thomas Bridge, a key transportation link in Los Angeles Harbor has been fitted with blue LED fixtures. The 41-year old landmark is said to be the first bridge that combines LEDs with solar power.

The bridge is lit using 160 LED beacons supplied by LEDtronics. The BSD1928 fixtures contain a large array of 5-mm LEDs and have a 180-degree viewing angle. They consume 19.5 W of power, provide a luminous flux of 263 lm and have a retail price of $898.

BSD1928The bridge lights are powered by a 4.5-kilowatt solar panel system installed by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) on its power distribution station adjacent to the bridge, and will not affect the local power supply to area homes and businesses. The LED technology utilized for the bridge lights uses less than 90% of the energy needed in regular fixtures, said an LADWP spokesperson.

Although less intense than lights from a previous design, the LEDs will be visible for miles in all directions, and the blue color was chosen to stand out from other harbor lights. As part of a compromise with conservation groups, the lights will switch on nightly only from dusk to midnight, so as to not disturb bird migratory patterns.

Bridge full viewPlans to light the 1.1 mile suspension bridge were faced put forward in 1988, but were delayed by factors such as rising costs, design disputes, the 1992 riots and the energy crisis. The project was initially estimated to cost $300,000 but ended up costing nearly $1 million in total.