Drivers who travel across the San Mateo Bridge might have noticed some new lights recently.
Over the past few weeks, PG&E workers have scaled the electric towers that stand next to the seven-mile-long bridge between Hayward and Foster City to install the lights. The work is part of a voluntary public safety project PG&E initiated this year to give the 15 towers along the bridge greater visibility for pilots flying over the San Francisco Bay.
To install these lights, crews take a boat across the Bay to a barge that’s stationed next to a tower. Equipment is pre-assembled and staged on the barge the night before, so crews can get right to work on installing the lights for that tower. At the barge, workers climb the tower and receive materials from below through a rope system. Depending on the weather and tide conditions, crews can install one light a day. Light installations on all 15 towers next to the bridge are scheduled to be completed by the end of February.
Solar panels also will be installed on the tower to power the energy efficient, light-emitting diode (LED) lights being used to help reduce the project’s carbon footprint. In addition, a specialized monitoring system is connected to the light on each tower to alert PG&E if the light goes out or is not operating properly.
PG&E is voluntarily working this year to install lights and other markings on all of its electric transmission structures that are taller than 200 feet and built before 1960. Even though structures built before 1960 are exempt from federal aviation requirements for lighting and markings, PG&E is performing this work in an effort to further enhance the safety and reliability of its electric system.
As part of this project, PG&E completed five light installations in January on electric transmission towers between its Ravenswood, San Mateo and Bair substations in San Mateo County. Similar projects in Woodland and eastern Contra Costa County are scheduled to take place later this year.