Modernizing a Hallmark

by | Jul 21, 2021 | News

Jacksonville has long been known as the City of Seven Bridges, a namesake celebrating the distinct system of bridges linking Downtown Jacksonville to the many neighborhoods across the St. Johns River. Around twenty years ago, each bridge received significant lighting upgrades, principally designed by local Architect David Laffitte. Utilizing the technology of the day, the unique architecture of each bridge was highlighted to stunning effect. Over the course of the past two decades, technological advances have opened new possibilities for lighting these treasured pieces of Jacksonville infrastructure. And no other bridge was more primed for modernization than the Acosta Bridge that links the heart of Jacksonville to the historic Riverside area.

Long a focal point on Independence Day, the Acosta Bridge over the St. Johns has been the launch pad for fireworks that light up Downtown. The accent lighting for the bridge itself had long been decommissioned, as the march of time (and Florida weather) had taken its toll on the once stunning blue cold cathode fixtures that outlined the structure and traced Jacksonville’s Skyway monorail back and forth across the bridge. This year, the bright accents of red, white and blue once again illuminate the Acosta Bridge. But this new light show remains long after the spent firework debris is cleaned up.

The Acosta now holds over 4,000 linear feet of color-changing, RGB, LED lighting. The new fixtures flash, marquee, dim and twinkle in color schemes as diverse as a rainbow. Rather than replace the existing cathode with static blue light, the team decided to make a splash with RGB LED technology for the new system. The luminaires, part of the WPX Series from Clifton Park, New York lighting manufacturer G&G Lighting, carry many of the rugged qualities needed for a highway infrastructure project. With IP68/IP69K ingress protection, and 3G vibration and IK07 impact ratings, these heavy-duty luminaires stand prepared to face the brutal Jacksonville climate.

With the lighting fixtures selected, other challenges awaited the design team. Firstly, a lengthy approval process stretching over three years, which included countless mockups, lighting studies and infrastructure assessments. ASI Lighting in Jacksonville completed initial design of the lighting system and mounting scheme, while RS&H Engineering performed final design drawings and schematics. Once the project was approved, construction could begin. The existing neon lighting system was fastened to steel cables on the bridge. The project team strived to use as much existing infrastructure available for the new lights to limit the cost and fabrication impact.


The project team installed the system by fastening the lighting and devices to existing bridge cables via 3D-printed clamps specifically designed for the installation. The controls system was specially engineered to be programmed remotely via cellphone, providing color and movement controls through Acuity Brands Pathway connectivity and SixEye remote management. Utilizing these controls and luminaire technologies, Jacksonville officials have since programmed the lights to celebrate several events in the City, including Jaguars games, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Florida-Georgia football game weekend, and more.

Highlighting and beautifying infrastructure, particularly bridges like the Tampa Sunshine Skyway Bridge and the Miami Bridge of Ages, continues to blossom into an ambitious and gripping means of highlighting the omnipresent elements of Florida downtown landscapes. And in the case of the Acosta Bridge, advancements in technology, and a little imagination, have coalesced to create something truly special, a hallmark of Downtown Jacksonville.

This article was originally featured in the June issue of designing lighting (dl)