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Testing Old/New Light Poles at Henry Hudson Bridge

Prototype timber light pole along the Henry Hudson Parkway
Prototype timber light pole along the Henry Hudson Parkway

The saying, “Everything old is new again,” is true at the Henry Hudson Bridge where MTA Bridges and Tunnels is testing two prototype light poles that marry 20th century design with 21st century technology.

Sharp-eyed motorists can see the pair of old-fashioned timber light poles, topped with black LED (light-emitting diode) fixtures, along the southbound Henry Hudson Parkway near Dyckman Street on the river side of the roadway.

Since the Henry Hudson Parkway is eligible for listing on the  New York State and National Registers for Historic Places, “We’re doing our best to blend the old with the new,” said Walter Hickey, Director of Engineering at the Henry Hudson and Robert F. Kennedy bridges. ”We are looking to make the new light poles architecturally pleasing by keeping the ‘1930’s style but we also want the lighting to be energy-efficient.”

The bridge’s current light poles may be replaced in the next Capital Program. The prototypes, installed in September, will be monitored over the next two years. “We’ll inspect them every six months to see how they are faring in different types of weather and also to check their lighting performance,” Hickey explained. “After that we’ll evaluate the data and decide if we want to stay with the timber poles or go with something different.”

The original light poles had an acorn-shaped light fixture and were erected in 1936 when the bridge and accompanying Henry Hudson Parkway were built. They were removed in 1962 and replaced with aluminum poles equipped with 250-watt metal halide lights. Although the light fixtures on the prototypes are not exactly acorn-shaped, “we found a design that is fairly close to it and appropriate for the time period,” Hickey said.

A total of about 50 light poles will be replaced in a contract that is expected to go out for bid in 2017 or 2018.