9 Crucial Things You Must Consider When Lighting a Bridge

Have you ever got awestruck by dazzling bridge lighting in celebration of a special holiday? Then you must’ve wondered what goes behind such magical lighting design. Well! It takes a mixture of art, technology, and time-tested strategies to make up superb lighting. 

Table of Contents

bridge lighting

Bridges are essential as they are often popular landmarks for tourists, not to mention the obvious purpose of safely connecting two areas. So, you can only imagine how important it is to design lighting for bridges.

If you are part of the bridge lighting project and don’t know where to start, then you are at the right place. Here we have listed the most important things you must consider when lighting a bridge based on modern trends.

1. Safety and Security 

Bridges are pivotal to transportation, so special consideration is needed when lighting them. Ensure the pedestrian path and driveway are correctly lit to avoid accidents. The US Department of Transportation recommends lighting the bridges in a way that doesn’t cause glare or eye strain upon approach. 

Without proper lighting, there is also a risk of accidentally falling off the bridge. Handrail lighting is perfect for this. Security is also a major concern when it comes to bridges.

By installing high-intensity flood lights, you can deter most criminal activity, making the place much safer for the citizens. 

Keep in mind that lighting for utility and aesthetics are two different things. More on it later.

2. Bridge Lighting Requirement 

Bridge lighting requirement depends on the type, purpose, and environment the bridge is present in. A bridge for pedestrians and cyclists has different lighting requirements than one with heavy traffic.

Typically, lighting is measured in “lux,” which means lumens (light intensity) produced by a source to light up an area of one square meter. 

Experts recommend 1 to 5 lux of illumination for pedestrian paths. For bridges that host heavy traffic, it’s best to have 5 to 10 lux of illumination. Accidents and mishaps can be avoided with at least this lighting level.

You also have room to be creative with colors and temperatures. Interestingly, red and green colors are avoided for the bridges above water because these act as a signal in ship navigation. 

led bridge lighting

3. Proper Placement

Bridge lighting is tricky because the structure already holds tons of weight of people and vehicles moving across. To keep the structure’s integrity, you must use existing foundations and studs. Moreover, lighting maintenance costs become too expensive if the placement is not well thought off. 

There are no definite rules for bridge lighting placement. However, there are some important things a lighting designer must consider.

  • Make use of existing columns and foundations. This ensures ease of maintenance in the future.
  • The lighting beam angle should be between 60 to 120 degrees—This will prevent light spillage and unnecessary diffusion.
  • Place Handrails at least 2 to 3 meters apart. The same goes for post-lights as well. 

4. Bridge Lighting Installation 

The bridge’s structure isn’t like that of a building, so it needs special consideration. Bridges withstand cyclic vibrations and stress all the time. Moreover, the outside wind, humidity, and heat also adversely affect the structure. All of these factors have a significant impact on life span as well.  

Make sure to install high-quality luminaire that can withstand such stresses and weather. But what is considered high quality when it comes to lighting? This brings us to the next section. 

5. Must Choose Durable Lights 

Protection ratings define the quality and durability of lighting fixtures. Lighting fixtures certified with specific standards and ratings should be used for bridge lighting. 

Quality Standard of Lighting FixtureMeaning 
IP60 and IP66 RatedAbility to withstand high water exposure, mist, and dust. E.g., rainfall and dust storms. 
3-G Vibration RatedAbility to withstand heavy bridge vibrations and stress. 
IK08 and IK10 RatedA European standard equal to the international standard IEC 62262 shows protection against external mechanical impact. 
MIL-STD 810G RatedA military standard that certifies lights against shock, impact, and extreme temperatures.
Quality Standard of Lighting Fixture

6. Environment-Friendly Lights 

Since bridge lighting is open to the environment, you must consider its effects on nature. Studies show that artificial lighting on bridges above water significantly impacts the aquatic life beneath it.

The same is true of birds and animals that live on the land and trees near the brightly lit bridges. All these have negative ecological effects which need to be considered before lighting design. It would help if you also used LED luminaires instead of traditional lights as they are highly energy efficient. They also require less repair and replacement, reducing the carbon footprint. 

7. Types of Bridge Lighting Fixtures

Many fixtures are available to glow up any style of bridge, making it a spectacular tourist attraction. 

Lighting Technologies 

Before going further, let’s discuss the type of lamps available for bridge lighting. Previously halogen, metal halides, high-intensity discharge (HID), and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights were common choices for bridges.

However, light-emitting diodes (LED) are preferable for modern lighting. Halogens and HPS produce an amber-yellow color and are used in lighting streets.

HID produces higher lumens, and the light is much whiter. However, it takes a minute to warm up once turned on. The light beam is also omnidirectional in older technologies with larger beam angles.

HID and Halogens also consume high power, which leads to a massive waste of energy. These drawbacks increase over time, and your project may have higher operational costs. 

Modern LED lamps are improving every day and offer better bridge lighting solutions. 

Post Lights 

Post lights or lamp posts are lighting fixtures mounted on a pole and are commonly used for bridge lighting. The fixtures are available in many designs, such as Victorian-era lanterns or modern-day shoe box lighting.  

Handrail Lights 

Handrail lights are installed inside the guide rail meant for pedestrians and cyclists. Handrail lighting creates charming vibes and makes the pathway much safer. Since these lights direct downwards, the light doesn’t escape into the sky, making them more efficient. 

Floodlights and Spotlights 

Floodlights and spotlights are great for highlighting certain architectural features of the bridge. These lights can be installed above as well as below the bridges. 

Neon Lights

Neon lights are decorative bridge lights. Designers use these to get creative and make unique artistic bridge lighting projects. LED neons are the go-to choice of designers.  

Wall Washers 

Wall-washing luminaires are best used to highlight a bridge’s texture or architectural marvel. 

8. Aesthetically Pleasing Lighting 

The next most crucial aspect to keep in mind is that bridge lighting needs to be not only practical but also aesthetically pleasing. You must remember the place’s history, heritage, and culture to master bridge lighting. 

An aesthetically pleasing bridge lighting can make an ordinary bridge a popular tourist attraction driving the local community’s economy. 

9. Smart Lighting 

Modern LEDs have intelligent control that lets the user control many lighting features, such as dimming, colors, and temperatures. This feature has allowed it to conduct majestic kinetic lighting shows on bridges. Moreover, smart lights are programmed to turn ON/OFF in sync with sun rise and fall. 

color lights for bridge

Exciting Bridge Lighting Design Ideas 

There are a lot of lighting designs that can bring out the best in any bridge architecture. Lighting designers typically make use of architectural features and themes to light bridges. Here are some popular bridge lighting ideas for your project. 

Under Bridge lighting

Under the bridge, lighting is done using flood lights that highlight the features present at the bottom of the bridge. Arcs under the bridge look spectacular under proper lighting. The view becomes more phenomenal if the bridge is above a river or sea. 

Pedestrian Bridge lighting

Handrail lighting for pedestrian bridges is trending. It creates a beautiful visual and doesn’t let the light escape the sky. 

Lighting Based on a Theme 

Bridges are excellent for theme-based decoration. Whether it’s New Year’s Eve, Christmas, or valentine’s day, you can use this to create a pretty lighting display. Modern LED allows designers to choose lighting with multiple colors and fixtures. Moreover, LED strips and neon are the best tools for lighting artists. 

Lighting Representing Heritage 

Not everything needs to change with time. Heritage is an essential aspect of any culture and makes it unique. Bridge lighting preserving the local heritage can act as a sneak peek into the past, which is exciting. Nowadays, retro and vintage fixture designs installed with modern lighting lamps are an excellent combination. Such type of bridge lighting can turn a boring place into a historical landmark. 

Creating Focal Point

We all have seen different types of bridges in our life, and each style has its unique characteristic. Like arch bridges have graceful arcs underneath the bridge. Similarly, suspension bridges have attention-grabbing wires holding the structure. By highlighting such features, you can create a focal point that can improve your bridge lighting project. 

Famous Bridge Lighting Projects 

Kosciuszko Bridge 

Kosciuszko bridge is a landmark in New York City and has a remarkable display of bridge lighting. The project runs by the name “ New York Harbor of Lights.” Designers used the bridge’s characteristic suspension wires to create phenomenal aesthetics using LEDs. 

Kosciusko Bridge illuminated at night

George Washington Bridge

Named after the former US president, this bridge displays grandiose aesthetics. The two towers holding the bridge are lit on public holidays and celebrations. 

George Washington Bridge

Albert Bridge

Albert Bridge is a landmark and a tourist attraction in England. It is part of a grand bridge lighting project called “The Illuminated River.” This project was part of a lighting competition initiated by the government to revamp and redecorate bridges.

Among all the lighting design submissions, American artist Leo Villareal won the competition for his extraordinary lighting design of the Albert bridge. 

Albert Bridge illuminations

Jacques Katia bridge

The Jacques Katia Bridge of Montreal is perhaps the most brilliant display of modern lighting design. The lighting system is intelligent and fed with real-time data on traffic, season, and popular trends in social media and represented by different colors and visuals. The colors match the people’s vibes, making it truly the city’s pulse. 

Night View Of Jacques Cartier Bridge In Montreal Getty Images

Binhe Yellow River Bridge

Binhe Yellow River bridge is a Chinese marvel decorated with mesmerizing lighting designs on numerous holidays and festivals. 

Cost of the Bridge Lighting 

The installation cost of bridge lighting depends on the lighting design’s size, purpose, and theme. Moreover, the type of fixtures used dramatically affects the initial and operational costs. Typically, the bridge lighting project cost can vary from few thousand to millions. The huge cost is worth it, considering the importance of bridges. 

Benefits of installing Bridge Lighting for the community

Local Economy

Ideal bridge lighting can play a vital role in boosting the local community’s economy. People travel from all around the world to see historical landmarks and spend money that helps local businesses. Ordinary bridges aren’t much of an attraction, but they become popular tourist spots when lit up with colorful and vibrant lights. 

Festivities and Celebration 

Festivals and holiday celebrations bring us closer to each other and instill joy and happiness. Bridges and architectural sites serve this purpose incredibly through mesmerizing lighting designs. 

Community Security 

Security is the most critical concern of any community. Unfortunately, criminal activity runs rampant in places with poor lighting. With adequate bridge lighting, not only a safe passage for people can be ensured, but it can also prevent crimes. 

Reduced Accidents 

Bridges need proper lighting for pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. Adequate bridge lighting prevents unfortunate accidents. The larger the bridge is, the more critical it is to be installed with effective bridge lighting. 

Benefits of Choosing LED Lights for Bridge Lighting 

Cost Effectiveness

Bridge lighting is always a large-scale project involving hundreds and thousands of lighting fixtures. To nail it, you have to invest in a cost-effective product. Decorative LED lighting is your best option if you want your project to succeed. Modern LEDs consume 60% less energy than older lighting technologies, reducing operational costs. However, the initial cost of LED lights is substantially higher, but it quickly recovers after the first year of use.

Low Maintenance

The operational cost of LED is what attracts people. Amazingly, high-quality LED lights can last up to 50,000 hours, making them extremely low maintenance. In contrast, most halogen and HPS lights only for 5000 to 6000 hours.

Environmentally Friendly

Since modern LED lights have a longer life span, high durability, and energy-efficient technology, so they positively affect the environment. Fewer replacements and reduced energy usage amount to lower environmental pollution.

Numerous Features

LED lights have the most diverse features and programming capabilities. It’s available in hundreds of colors, temperatures, and fixtures, making them ideal for bridge lighting. There is also a dimming feature and smart controls that let you create stunning real-time effects, which was impossible before.

Evolving Technology

Older technologies like halogens, HPS, and HID lights have reached their peak advancement, and there is limited research on these technologies. However, LEDs are still evolving, and improvements are happening every day. Technology is evolving, resulting in better lamps that produce high-intensity light.

Final Thoughts

Once you go through the important aspects of the bridge lighting we have discussed above, it’ll certainly become easier for you to understand the basic concept of practical lighting.

Since bridges are an effective mode of transportation, you need to follow the lighting requirement we have mentioned. You can also get inspiration from the exciting bridge lighting designs discussed above. Moreover, we recommend LED lamps as the primary lighting source for bridge lighting because of their extraordinary performance. 

Looking for High-Quality LED Bridge Lighting Solutions? 

Bridge lighting needs to be low-maintenance to be effective because repairs require a lot of resources and time. RC Lighting delivers high-quality luminaires to our clients all around the world.

You can order customizable products according to your bridge lighting project or scroll through our vast catalog of LED post lights, flood lights, spotlights, handrail lights, and much more. 

We make all our products in a high-tech facility using premium quality raw materials. Moreover, our expert technical team ensures all our LED products comply with international quality standards. All our products come with an exciting five-year warranty.

Our customer service team is available 24/7 to help you with your project. You can even order a FREE evaluation of your project. So, what are you waiting for? Contact US NOW

Request A Quote for Your Lighting Projects!

Share The Post Now:

You may also find these topics interesting

Download Lighting Catalog!