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Posted: 9:49 p.m. Thursday, July 26, 2012
OAKLAND, Calif. —
Caltrans turned on the lights on the new Eastern span of the Bay Bridge Thursday night, giving drivers a look at the new system that will light their drive. The custom-made system will use 48,000 LED lights when the bridge is complete and it's designed to optimize visibility and minimize light pollution. "It's very sophisticated, it's designed to be safe for drivers and also aesthetic to go with the world-class theme we're going for," said Caltrans Bay Bridge spokesman Bart Ney. The system can flood the roadway with light, but drivers shouldn't see any glare because the lights shine from behind. The more than 60-foot light poles were manufacturedby Valmont in Nebraska. The challenge was to create a tapered pentagonal shaped pole to reflect the main tower that would also be seismically sound. "A normal Caltrans pole is only half an inch thick, where this pole is 2 inches thick, to take the shock of an earthquake," said Rick Sampson, a sales manager at Valmont. The actual LED light fixtures were developed by Musco Sports Lighting in Iowa. "It was from scratch and designed especially for this project," said Adam de Jong, sales manager at Musco Sports Lighting. "It's definitely a first." The LED system cost $18 million. Caltrans said it will save money in the long run because the LED lights are 50 percent more energy efficient than the current sodium vapor lights and last 10 to 15 years, instead of just two. Caltrans will be doing more tests in the coming months and hope to have a light show for the public when the bridge opens in 2013.
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