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Street Lighting Tucson, AZ

Bern Series luminaires attract pedestrians to downtown Tucson

Tucson, Arizona blends the majesty of the surrounding mountainsides with the excitement characteristic of a flourishing city. Home to nearly a million residents, Tucson recently developed a master plan to invigorate its downtown in an effort to bring more local citizens and tourists to the area. 

The revitalization project focused primarily on Scott Avenue, with neighborhood residents, designers, business owners, engineers, utilities and organizations joining together to create an environment that encourages pedestrian traffic. Enhancements such as a solar-illuminated turquoise trail, a dog water fountain, shade trees and gryphon tracks in the sidewalk are designed to stimulate interest along a street that was once considered a minor artery.

“Scott Avenue flows into Broadway, a main thoroughfare through Tucson,” said Ernie Encinas, Transportation Superintendent for the city of Tucson. “The goal was not only to revitalize Scott Avenue but to show residents what a downtown stretch of road can look like when the city has the budget to make the upgrades needed.”

During a fast-track design/build project, the city reduced parking along Scott Avenue and narrowed the roadway to make it more pedestrian friendly. Walkways were widened to facilitate access to restaurants, hotels, businesses and attractions, including the Tucson Temple of Music and Art—home to the state’s leading professional theatre—the Tucson Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the Tucson Children’s Museum. 

The prospect of increased pedestrian traffic, however, raised concerns about safety and security, which led to the installation of a new lighting system. Scott Avenue was previously illuminated with cobra head fixtures that created puddles of light and left some areas dark. The system’s high pressure sodium lamps cast a yellowish light that appeared dim and uninviting.

The city selected twin-headed Bern Series fixtures from Holophane for installation along both sides of Scott Avenue. The contemporary looking bell-shaped luminaires are part of the company’s line of GlasWerks® II Euro-Styled fixtures.

“The city plans to install a street car as part of the renovation and earlier worked with a contractor to install some of the track and mount other lighting fixtures in another area,” said Edward Kessler, senior traffic engineer, STANTEC Consulting Services, Inc., Tucson.  “The city chose the decorative Bern luminaires because they are aesthetically appealing and their bell-shaped housing mimics the light fixtures already installed along the tracks.”

Bern Series luminaires use 85-watt induction lamps, which were selected for their energy efficiency and white light. The city considered metal halide lamps but rejected them because they require more maintenance. Bern Series fixtures offer tool-less entry access to the lamp and electrical components to facilitate maintenance.

“Limited parking for service vehicles along Scott Avenue made it especially important to install fixtures and lamps that require as little maintenance as possible,” Encinas said.  “The induction lamps provide a soft white light and have a much longer life than metal halide. The color rendering is excellent so that if someone looks at something red, the person sees red instead of another color.”

A total of 108 Bern Series luminaires were installed on 54 Princeton style poles designed for mounting two fixtures each, with poles 16 feet tall and 5 inches in diameter. The poles include an 18-inch base and a 3 ½-inch x 8-inch tenon for mounting a roadway arm. Poles are custom painted a green-bronze color so they blend in with the neighborhood landscaping and architecture.

Fixture spacing varies from 40 to 70 feet since the luminaires had to be installed around existing underground utilities. Illumination levels are 1.8 footcandles average maintained on the roadway and sidewalks, with the city of Tucson requiring more stringent light levels than those required by IES for this type of application. 

“The Bern Series luminaires include a prismatic glass lens that provides a comfortable, even spread of light,” Encinas said. “Pedestrians and drivers see no point sources or sharp shadows—whether they are directly beneath the fixtures or fifty feet away.”

Because of the combination of optics and fixture design, Bern Series luminaires’ are classified IES full cut-off and meet Tucson’s requirements for remaining star sky friendly.  Fixtures are controlled by a photocell and illuminated dusk until dawn. The Scott Avenue revitalization project was completed in 12 months.

“Comments about the lighting from residents and city officials have been very positive,” Kessler said. “People who live on Scott Avenue are especially complimentary because the lighting has created a safe and inviting environment.”

The Bern Series luminaires have been operational nearly three years and have required no maintenance. 
“The lighting is beautiful,” Encinas said. “Bern Series fixtures are the right choice when there’s a large area to light and the maintenance budget is limited.”

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