LED Leads the Way in Bridge Lighting

By William Atkinson | Sep 15, 2017
Bayview Bridge




From Quincy, Illinois, the Bayview Bridge carries westbound U.S. Highway 24 traffic over the Mississippi River, connecting to West Quincy, Missouri. The 4,507-foot bridge runs parallel to the Quincy Soldier's Memorial Bridge, which takes eastbound U.S. 24 traffic over the river into Quincy. Built in 1986, the Bayview Bridge is an early cable-stay bridge made with a reinforced concrete super structure and pylons.

Area residents on both sides of the river count on the two bridges to get them to work and home on a daily basis. But the bridges are more than just their function; they are viewed as icons to the communities on both sides of the river.

In 2007, local civic leaders received a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to illuminate the Bayview Bridge. Subsequently, the City of Quincy hired Klingner & Associates and Brown Electric Company to combine their expertise and provide a conceptual lighting plan, constructability review and cost estimates for lighting the bridge structure.

Originally envisioned as a system of monotone white metal halide lights with optional colored filters for special occasions, the project evolved into a cinematic light show with the advent of high-lumen LED light fixtures.

After performing on-site testing to demonstrate the viability of the fixtures to light the 180-foot tall concrete towers from the bridge deck, the team developed a final lighting concept. This concept included above-deck lighting for the towers and the support cables, and below-deck lighting for the tower bases and the anchor piers at each end of the cable-stay span.

The lighting system was supplied by Lighting Associates of Webster Groves, Mo. According to Robert Locke, project manager at Lighting Associates, the goal was to provide a lighting system that was energy-efficient, that provided great color saturation to highlight the architectural beauty of the bridge and that met the needs of both transportation departments.

Lighting Associates also provided the custom programming to create the light shows using digital multiplex (DMX) controls, which allow each fixture to be controlled individually, as well as special effects such as fading to create light shows on the bridge structure.

To control the lighting, the team selected a Mosaic controller from ETC, Middletown, Wis. The DMX-controlled lights have 16 custom programmed color sequences, allowing the city to easily display different color schemes. The lighting scheme can be changed easily using a cell phone.

The project did require some finesse managing logistics, though. "The scale and location of the bridge was a big challenge for several reasons," said Locke. "Since the bridge connected two states, we had to coordinate the project with two departments of transportation, Illinois and Missouri." In addition, the team did not want to interrupt traffic patterns on the bridge or the river below while updating the lighting system. This included the barge traffic on the river, which involved turning on and off the below-deck lights at night to help them navigate under the bridge.

The final LED fixture lighting design resulted in a 72 percent reduction in energy consumption compared with the initial idea of the monotone white metal halide fixtures and an impressive 91 percent reduction from the initial estimates when the project was first envisioned in 2002. Actual energy usage has proven to be even less since the fixtures only achieve maximum power consumption when producing certain colors that utilize all four LED colors in the fixture simultaneously. The power consumption to light the bridge on a typical night is equivalent to running two hairdryers at the same time.

The reduced energy consumption also generated savings on initial installation cost, by allowing smaller power conductors and conduit to supply power to the fixtures. With a distance of 920-feet from the electric service to the first tower and another 1,340 feet to the far end of the cable-stay section, this proved to be a significant cost savings.

With the project completed, a brighter Bayview Bridge connects the towns of Quincy and West Quincy and stands as a symbol of the two cities.

"It was an honor to be part of the job that was a first of its kind in our region and has greatly benefited the community we work and live in," said Nathan Nuttelman, president of Brown Electric.­

About The Author

ATKINSON has been a full-time business magazine writer since 1976. Contact him at [email protected]

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