In October, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to “transform” New York City’s bridges and tunnels “for the 21st Century.” The plan has four goals: reduce congestion, combat emerging security threats, increase flood resiliency and promote energy conservation.


The first three goals include plans related to automated tolling, increased security personnel, state-of-the-art cameras and sensors, flood barriers and seismic retrofits. The fourth involves an LED lighting plan and coordinated illumination program.


“Environmental conservation ... has been a big part of what MTA [New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority] has been about,” Cuomo said. “LED lighting on the MTA bridges and facilities is a significant energy conservation savings, and we are going to be installing that. It reduces the use of electricity by 40 to 80 percent.”


Work on installing the LED lighting began this month and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.


“The insides of the tunnels are going to have a design aspect, and they will have color accents, and they will have LED lighting,” Cuomo said. “Energy efficiency with blue ceilings, I don’t believe, will fool anyone into thinking they are looking at the sky, but at least it will give you a feeling of openness in the tunnels that you don’t have, with blue and gold LEDs.


“If our bridges were illuminated, they would be breathtaking, and I believe they could be an international tourist attraction. We are going to have the digitally controlled LED systems that will be programmed to also do color lighting. They will be illuminated from dusk to dawn,” he said.


The colors of the LED lights on the bridges can also change depending on various holidays or celebrations.


The installation of the LED lighting and other technologies (e.g., automated toll facilities) is estimated to cost $500 million, which will come from the MTA’s $27 billion capital plan.


“The funding is secured,” Cuomo said. “Many of our contractors have already been selected, and much of the work is already moving.”