The $1.2 million aesthetic lighting project at the Peace Bridge, spanning the Niagara River and connecting Fort Erie, Ont., with Buffalo, N.Y., creates a dramatic illumination element reminiscent of the U.S. city’s historical nickname the “City of Light.”

“We’re very pleased, and it exceeded our expectations,” says Ron Rienas, general manager of the binational Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority in Buffalo, N.Y. “It has been well received by the community.”

Aesthetic Lighting of Peace Bridge-Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo, N.Y.

Stantec Consulting Services of Rochester, N.Y., engineered the new lighting system, which features light emitting diode (LED) lights, controlled by sophisticated computer software. The combination allows for unlimited color combinations and animations, while saving energy, providing better security lighting, and reducing glare and light pollution.

“This lighting system is such a striking addition to the Buffalo and Fort Erie skylines and the whole area’s character,” says Jeri Pickett, project manager for Stantec. “The fact that it’s energy efficient and easy to maintain makes it a practical enhancement as well.”

Engineers considered designing new lighting for the bridge a complex assignment due to its structure, with open steel arches supporting a fairly narrow superstructure. The steel beams provided only small surfaces to light. Floodlights on the concrete piers illuminated the face of the bridge but also the underside of the roadway.

The team decided to down light the bridge to minimize light spillage, avoid lighting the underside of the deck, and accentuate the arch features. The lights are mounted on the catwalk directly under the deck.

Stantec designed five types of lighting, each to address specific needs. The team replaced the existing yellow-cast, 400-watt, high-pressure sodium roadway-lighting fixtures with 250-watt white light metal halide luminaires with full cut-off optics to minimize glare and spillage and provide more even coverage of the bridge deck. They added LED floodlights in the middle of the bridge to highlight the American, Canadian, and Peace flags, which can now be seen from the shore. Specialty fixtures with egg-crate shields to avoid driver glare were located within the Parker Truss, which runs over the Black Rock Canal. Red-, green- and blue-emitting LED fixtures, replaced the floodlights on the concrete piers, and new LED fixtures were placed inside the superstructure, 100 ft above the river and right beneath the roadway, directed downward. In all, the design included 34 new cobra heads and 664 LED light fixtures.

Frey Electric Construction Co. of Tona-wanda, N.Y., started and completed the installation in May 2009.

Key Players

Owner: Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, Fort Erie, Ont.
General Contractor: Frey Electric Construction Co., Tonawanda, N.Y.
MEP Engineer: Stantec Consulting Services Inc., Rochester, N.Y.
Lighting Designer: Mulvey & Banani, Toronto, Ont.
Data Design, Aiming and Programming of LED Lighting: Westbury National Show Systems, Toronto