Throgs Neck, Whitestone to get LED lighting

The Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia lit up in red, white and blue for the Democratic National Convention last summer. The MTA will begin installing the colorful LED lights on New York City bridges starting this month.
Photo courtesy of Delaware River Port Authority

Bronx residents will soon see the MTA bridges in a new light – literally – as plans to install new LED lighting on all of New York City’s MTA bridges are underway.

Governor Cuomo has included plans to illuminate the bridges, first discussed in a transportation proposal presentation in October of last year, in his proposed 2017 budget discussed Tuesday, January 17.

The lighting will be funded as part of a $500 million MTA project aimed at installing electronic tollbooths.

In addition to the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges in the Bronx, the Verrazano Narrows, Henry Hudson, Cross Bay, Marine Parkway and all three spans of the Robert F. Kennedy will also be illuminated under the new initiative.

Cuomo has also said he hoped to add LED lighting to the George Washington Bridge, which is managed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Under the proposal, LED lighting, which uses 40 to 80 percent less power and lasts six times longer than other types of lighting, will be adopted on all MTA bridges and tunnels.

Construction is expected to begin this month, according to the New York Power Authority.

The NYPA will be overseeing the project and the vendors hired to implement it.

“The design for the project and the associated cost estimate are being finalized with the MTA,” said NYPA spokesman Paul DeMichele. “Once that is complete, we will have a cost estimate for the project. NYPA will utilize its low-cost financing to assist MTA with the upfront costs, and MTA will repay NYPA through its utility bills.”

In addition to saving money by using less electricity, LED lights can be programmed into different colors and patterns or set to music.

The lighting of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, is estimated to have generated over $100 million in economic activity, Cuomo said.

“Well, if that’s what they can do in those other places, then imagine what we can do in New York because our bridges are some of the most beautiful on the globe, just structurally,” he said.

Other cities have used the colored lighting to great effect.

For instance, lights on the Ben Franklin Bridge were switched to purple in honor of the musician Prince after he died last year and were red, white and blue when the Democratic Convention was held in the city last summer.

Cuomo said the bridge lighting could be in unison with the lighting of the Empire State Building and Freedom Tower.

The Empire State Building is often lit with different colors to celebrate holidays or the local sports teams.

Elected officials who represent the area near the Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges said they were optimistic about the new look.

“I’m excited for the installation of new LED lights on MTA-operated bridges across the city, including a pair of crossings in my home district,” said Senator Jeff Klein. “The planned synchronized light shows will offer spectacular views, which many of my constituents will be able to enjoy on a nightly basis.”

Assemblyman Michael Bendetto said that while he didn’t always see eye-to-eye with the governor, he did support the bridge initiative.

“It brightens up the bridges, and the LED lights will use less energy and be more efficient, which saves us all money,” Benedetto said. “It’s a win-win all around.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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