Henry Hudson Bridge Navigation Lights Shine

The red and green "Star Wars" looking lights emanating from beneath the Henry Hudson Bridge may seem like an attempt to reach out to other-worldly beings but they are actually navigation lights required by the U.S. Coast Guard to help guide maritime traffic.

The red and green "Star Wars" looking lights emanating from beneath the Henry Hudson Bridge may seem like an attempt to reach out to other-worldly beings but they are actually navigation lights required by the U.S. Coast Guard to help guide maritime traffic.

If they seem brighter than remembered it's because the lights, which look like sleek light sabers, are the latest technology. They were installed in 2010 when the more traditional incandescent, circular lights were replaced during the lower level deck reconstruction project, said Henry Hudson Facility Engineer Walter Hickey.

"There are so many advantages to using the new LED navigation lights," Hickey said. "They're bright and stand out more; they last longer; they're easier to maintain and most of all they consume less power."

There are a total of six navigation lights on the bridge: two reds and one green on either side of the span, and range in length from approximately 19 to 26 feet long. Navigation lights are required to help marine traffic travel safely near the bridge. The green lights tell boat operators that they are in the center of the Harlem Ship Canal; the red lights indicate the north and south channel margins.

The LED lights are connected on a strip that is placed inside a clear acrylic tube. There are about four lights per foot on each strip, with the exception of the green lights which have about 16 lights near the bottom of the strip. Each complete light uses approximately 100 watts of power, the same as a 100 watt bulb.

 "They are definitely brighter than the old lights. You can see them clearly all the way from the Major Deegan Expressway or from the Palisades across the Hudson River," Hickey said.

They are also easier to maintain. The old incandescent navigation lights were difficult to get to because of their placement under the bridge, Hickey explained, but the new ones because of their tube-like design can be pulled up and changed from roadway level. Not that they'll have to do that as often since they last about 5 to 10 years.

Henry Hudson Bridge Navigation Lights Shine
Photo credit: Thomas Cho, MTA Bridge and Tunnels