New Bay Bridge lights make debut


The $18 million lighting system is greener than the current lights -- 50 percent more efficient. The specially designed white LED lights are supposed to last 15 years.

Nearly 24,000 individual LED lights lit up the westbound skyway on the new Bay Bridge Thursday night.

It was a glimpse of what drivers will see in just more than a year from now. When both sides are completed, 1,500 fixtures will house 48,000 LEDs, 25 in each fixture.

The LEDs create a flat white light that does not shine into opposing traffic.

"The beauty of this is, we do a computer study for the lighting in the factory, so all of these fixtures are pre-aimed," Caltrans spokesperson Saeed Shahmirzai said. "So when they come to the field, they actually, as you can see, these two bolts will attach this fixture and they are already aiming where you want."

An Iowa-based lighting company designed the special lighting.

"So what we used were LEDs, which are individually aimed and individually visored," Musco Lighting spokesperson Adam DeJong said. "And so you create, basically, the ability to paint the roadway surface, as opposed to just kind of throwing a bunch of light at it."

For seismic safety, the poles have 2-inch thick bases, rather than the standard one-half-inch. The Nebraska-based Valmont pole company designed the five-sided poles to resemble the single tower.

The new span of the Bay Bridge is on schedule to open Labor Day weekend next year.

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