LEDs on the Jefferson Street Viaduct
Illuminating an Ottumwa Icon
The Light Up Ottumwa committee conceived the idea of installing accent light arrays to illuminate the historic Jefferson Street Viaduct. This small group worked to raise funds and achieve regulatory approval for the project. In 2001, Musco Lighting of Oskaloosa, IA, installed four 6-light metal halide (MH) arrays, one on each quadrant of the river span.
In 2017, a committee formed to guide the Alliant Energy Hometown Rewards (HTR) program for Ottumwa. Committee members worked with over a two-year period to achieve several community-wide energy-savings goals. The "reward" for meeting the goals was grant funding for the implementation of an energy efficiency project.
After research and deliberation, the committee unanimously decided to upgrade the bridge accent lights with new color-changing LED technology, again from local business, Musco Lighting. Several MSO volunteers were on the HTR committee and led the effort to consult with the City, Musco, and the Bridge View Center to arrange for the purchase and installation of the new lighting system.
The new lights were ordered in February 2020, will be installed in April 2020, and an illumination celebration will take place on April 22, 2020: the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
Why did we need new lights?
As the existing lighting arrays were approaching 20-years old, the technology was outdated and replacement parts were no longer being made. Maintenance on the system was becoming an impossible task and one of the non-functioning lights was removed without being replaced. The MH fixtures produce only one color and at high energy consumption (1,000 W per fixture).
The new LED system is the latest technology from Musco and comes with a 10-year warranty. The LED fixtures will be able to project nearly any color and pre-programmed "shows" will be able to project multiple colors at once or in a sequence! These new LED fixtures will be major energy-savers: They draw a maximum 400 W per fixture (bright white), but draw considerably less when other colors (i.e. blue) are selected. These are at least 60% more efficient than the MH system and will reduce the City's energy cost by several thousand dollars annually.
So who paid for this?
No City funds were used for the upgrade project. The Hometown Rewards funds were from a pool of funding that energy companies were legislatively required to spend on energy efficiency programs. The HTR program provided approximately 60% of the funding required for the project. MSO volunteers wrote grant requests to the Wapello County Foundation and the Fahrney Beautification Foundation for the remainder of the funds. The WCF provided approximately 15% of the project and Fahrney provided the remaining 25%.