Murray Baker Bridge Lighting
Firm: Farnsworth Group, Inc.
Owner: Illinois Department of Transportation/City of Peoria
Description: Original or Innovative Application of New or Existing Technologies - Does the entry demonstrate the use of a new science or a breakthrough in the general knowledge of engineering? 3D CAD software was utilized in conjunction with light modeling technology to provide high quality renderings of the project during early stages of the design process. These renderings were critical in guiding the final design vision and gaining consensus among all stakeholders. Does the entry represent a unique application of new or existing technology, techniques, materials, or equipment? The chosen lighting control, DMX communication, is more commonly utilized in theatrical lighting applications. By utilizing this advancing technology, new capabilities including color control, intensity adjustment, and even animation, were provided as opportunities to light the bridge in ways that were not possible previously. Future Value to the Engineering Profession and Perception by the Public - Will the entry redefine current engineering thinking? Most current infrastructure is generally designed with function as the top priority. This project challenged this concept by utilizing an existing piece of infrastructure as a canvas to create something aesthetically pleasing and iconic. Does the entry advance a positive public image of engineering excellence? Yes, this project provides a shining example of how multiple public and private entities can come together around a vision and create something that benefits the entire community. The project would not have been possible without the close partnership between Farnsworth Group, the City of Peoria, and IDOT. The value of the engineering team was evident. Farnsworth Group staff conducted research into inspirational examples from around the world, developed design parameters, and prepared materials for a Stakeholder Meeting where consensus could be built to develop a conceptual lighting design. During the meeting multiple concepts were reviewed and discussed, a consensus building exercise was completed, and a desire for the static, but multi-colored, clean lighting effect was identified as the clear preference. The group identified that a concept that allowed changes in colors to commemorate seasons, events, causes, or civic pride was important. Social, Economic and Sustainable Design Considerations - Do the solutions identified produce secondary benefits of value to the community environment? This project creates several essential secondary benefits for the entire Greater Peoria Community and beyond. The span was named for Murray Morrison Baker, who was instrumental in the formation of Holt Manufacturing Company (now Caterpillar). Refurbishing and reenergizing the Murray Baker proudly showcases the industrial heritage of the community. The project also provides a highly visible mechanism to support the full range of community events, causes, and milestones. The infinite possibilities for color and hue with this new lighting system have created a “community canvas” available to each and every citizen. Finally, the new lighting creates a unique and iconic landmark linking both Downtown Peoria and East Peoria. The structure itself is an excellent example of a steel cantilever bridge. While such designs were popular and plentiful in the past, preference is now oftentimes given to other structures. Thus, the new lighting further highlights its historic pedigree as a steel cantilever, while creating a unique and iconic symbol for the entire region. Does the entrant’s approach provide society with social, economic, or sustainable development benefits? The Murray Baker Bridge Decorative Lighting project benefits society in the following ways: Reinvigorates a key artery for commerce, tourism, and community interaction For over sixty years, the Murray Baker Bridge has been an essential east-west transportation artery by over 60,000 vehicles daily. Provided significant short-term material and labor benefit to the Greater Peoria Area Thirty years ago, the original decorative lighting scheme for Bridge cost $150,000. In 2020, the cost for the new decorative lighting scheme approached $5M, and was part of a larger, comprehensive bridge refurbishment with a price tag of $42M. Provides a green, sustainable, and cutting-edge alternative to the original decorative lighting installation The original lights, installed thirty years ago, were energy inefficient and high in maintenance. This new installation, using cutting-edge low-energy LEDs, provides a green, low maintenance, and sustainable solution. Does the entrant’s contribution to the project improve the health, safety or welfare of the public or affected environment? The design and engineering of the new decorative lighting system for the Murray Baker Bridge improved its visibility for both Downtown Peoria and East Peoria, thus serving as a prominent landmark, wayfinder, and community anchor for all who circulate in this area. The collaborative process used for this design and engineering effort improved the climate and relationships among all community stakeholders who participated in it, both public and private. Complexity - Did the entry successfully address very complex criteria or unique problems? The physical limitations on space created by the existing bridge dimensions also created challenges. Any decorative lighting infrastructure (fixtures, conduits, and controllers) were precisely placed to not conflict with any of the other components of the overall bridge rehabilitation, including traditional roadway lighting, river navigational lighting, and communications infrastructure. When identifying the preferred location for the system control cabinet, it was noted that the existing ground elevation was below potential flood elevations. In order to decrease the risk of damaging the valuable electronic equipment, the cabinet was placed on top of the base of an existing bridge pier. This design choice not only provided a solid foundation for the controller equipment, but also keeps it above potential flood elevations. Were extraordinary problems of site, location, hazardous conditions, project requirements, or similar elements present? The environment for electronic equipment mounted on a major span bridge is not particularly hospitable. Equipment and materials were chosen to withstand the extreme wind and temperature conditions, as well as increased moisture and salt from roadway treatments. Considerations to prevent bird nests were implemented and the design also accounted for almost constant vibrations due to traffic and wind loadings. Additionally, as the decorative lighting was planned to be part of the overall bridge rehabilitation project, its construction timeline had to align with the very limited construction window for the overall project. Due to the critical role the bridge played within the regional transportation network, its closure duration was scheduled to be as short as possible. The design of the decorative lighting needed to not only meet the design deliverable deadlines of IDOT letting schedules, but it also needed to be constructable within a short timeframe. Did the entry require the use of out-of-the-ordinary technology or ingenuity for achievement of project’s goals? One unique challenge associated in the early stages of the design process was defining and building consensus on a design vision and desired capabilities of the proposed system. Knowing potential lighting concepts could vary greatly and the overall visual appeal of the project would be subjective, the Farnsworth Group team first identified a group of key stakeholders and led them through a visioning session. During the session, a range of bridge lighting elements from around the world were presented. The process was successful in identifying features that were desirable and provided clear a consensus that led directly to the concept design. 3D rendering and light modeling software were used to create renderings of a proposed system based on the visioning results. These renderings confirmed that the goals identified in the design visioning session were being met. Exceeding Owner Needs - Did the engineer or entrant successfully engage the client/owner in the overall project development process? Yes, Farnsworth Group, the City of Peoria, IDOT, and the Contractors all worked together in the decision-making process throughout the project. Coordination and collaborative communication began during the feasibility stage and continued through construction completion. City and IDOT representatives and our design staff worked as one, unified team to provide creative solutions to project challenges. Is it an economical and cost-effective solution? Yes, the previous lighting system was difficult to maintain. Previously, the City was required to rent special equipment to access lights located high above the existing bridge deck. In addition, the relative narrow width of the deck required lane closures to accommodate work, adding cost, and limiting the time available complete. The new design provides lighting fixtures mounted at deck level. This allows for efficient future maintenance. How did final cost relate to original budget estimate? The construction cost came in just over the original budget estimate (see section D). Total Budgeted: $4.78M | Total Actual: $4.81M How closely does the entrant’s solution meet the total goals of the client/owner? Important design objectives included the use of LED for sustainability, keeping all fixtures within reach of the bridge deck for ease of maintenance, and providing robust controls to provide maximum flexibility of the color schemes. Our services not only met but exceeded these goals of the City and IDOT. Did the entrant meet the client’s time schedule? Yes, the project schedule was maintained through extensive and proactive coordination and planning by the Farnsworth Group team. Modeling, design, and cost estimating were expedited to meet the accelerated schedule.
Illinois Department of Transportation/City of Peoria