Lighting a Landmark: State-of-the-Art System Illuminates New East Span Skyway
Skyway lighting test (Photo © Barrie Rokeach)
Video by Mark Jones
July 26, 2012
Planning for the lighting system began more than a decade ago. Howard Brandston, the first inductee in the Architectural Lighting Hall of Fame, was the initial conceptual designer. The final lighting system was designed by Musco Sports Lighting, from Oskaloosa, Iowa. The two men who founded the company in 1976 began by lighting sports venues and then lit up the world. Their LED lighting systems have been built in sports venues around the planet, including the official lighting for the 1984, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. The company flexed its lighting muscle outside the sports industry in a big way — Musco lit the Statue of Liberty for its rededication in 1986. Since then it has done lighting for the Washington Monument, the White House and now, the new East Span of the Bay Bridge.
Global engineering consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff and local firm Zoon Engineering did the electrical design work for the new East Span lighting, while the Long Beach-based engineering firm of Moffatt & Nichol provided lighting management services. The East Bay's Bleyco Inc. is the electrical contractor. The poles for the lights were made by Valmont Industries of Valley, Nebraska. Since they lead to the world’s tallest self-anchored suspension tower, these were custom-designed to complement the striking elegance of the main tower. Visually pleasing to both daytime and nighttime observers, the lighting fixtures also yield big energy savings: The LED bulbs use 50 percent less electricity than conventional lighting, and the bulbs are expected to last 10 to 15 years instead of the industry average of two years.
The 48,000 LED lights on the new East Span Skyway have each been individually aimed so that every inch of the driving deck of the bridge will have brilliant, even light. That means drivers won’t get the constant strobe-light effect that they experience on most other bridges and highways. The breakthrough design also means drivers won’t even really notice the lighting, because the lights are above and behind the drivers, illuminating the path ahead. Each pole does feature a single light at the top of the pole, which will visually guide drivers — eastbound to Oakland, and westbound to the self-anchored suspension tower and Yerba Buena Island.
While the lighting tests are now focused on the Skyway portion of the bridge (in the westbound direction, at first), the SAS tower will get its own lighting treatment after construction is complete. The lighting of the tower and its distinctive suspender cables also will be done by Musco Sports Lighting.
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This page was last modified Friday July 27, 2012
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