MIAMI –The one million motorists who traverse the Miami Dade Expressway (MDX) every year share one common concern: they want to get to where they’re going quickly and safely. To help them do this, the MDX authority is constantly enhancing its network of roads by doing things like installing open road tolling gantries that read vehicle license plates and passes, thereby avoiding the stop-and-go issues created at traditional toll plazas. At one such gantry, MDX went beyond its usual practical traffic control and safety mission to offer motorists an additional aesthetic benefit with help from a collection of ILUMINARC fixtures installed by Barbizon Lighting Company.
Resembling an aircraft wing, the impressive gantry and pylon toll structure spans ten lanes of one of the busiest sections of the MDX system, the 15.4-mile State Route 836, referred to by locals as the “Dolphin Expressway.” The structure’s soaring design creates the impression that it is about to take flight, an image that makes the daily commute more enjoyable (or less tedious) for the thousands of motorists who pass under it every workday.
Adding to this uplifting feeling is the crisp, richly colored light that shines through the winged toll structure. This light is created by 120 of ILUMINARC’s Ilumiline 36 IP linear LED fixtures and 12 of the company’s Ilumipod 42 IP LED pods.
There are two rows of the ILUMINARC fixtures on the sleekly designed gantry. One row is on the upper edge of the wing, the other on the lower. This dual level arrangement creates a sense of movement and adds to the depth of the structure.
“When you drive by the toll and see the lights, it’s clearly impressive,” said Drew Bongiorno, Barbizon Systems Sales Manager. “The structure is skinned to look like the wing of an airplane. It has holes in it to allow wind and water to pass. The ILUMINARC fixtures are inside the wing so their light shines through the holes. It makes the whole structure come alive.”
According to Bongiorno, the color changing capabilities of the RGBW Ilumiline 36 IP and Ilumipod 42 IP fixtures play a key role in creating the impressive effect at the toll. “Full advantage is taken of the fixtures’ color rendering,” he said. “There are a lot very nice color changes preprogrammed into the system. Of course the changes are subtle. Given that this structure is over an expressway you can’t have anything too jarring.”
Although the toll gantry projects an image of smoothness and fluidity, building it was anything but a fast and easy ride. The wing structure was built on the ground in sections. Each time a section was complete, the Barbizon team would go to the site to program and test the completed section individually. Then, once the structure was assembled, the data lines were connected. It was over eight months from the start of the first section until the structure was completed.
“This was a project specified by a consultant,” said Bongiorno. “Barbizon was selected for the project because of its reputation for being the go-to company to get the job done. There are always a lot complex special requirements in a project of this nature and our team members like Project Manager Shawn Finucane, System Sales Specialist Ted Doyle and Tech Services people like Jack Hochberg, Cruze Hutcheson and Brandon Cigainero did excellent work.”
Not surprisingly, the impressive new toll gantry has generated a great deal of positive buzz among Miami-area motorists. “Many of our customers have asked me if I’ve seen the new toll gantry,” said Bongiorno. “When I tell them we did that project, they’re just very impressed. It feels good to all of us on the team that we were part of something that’s appreciated by so many people every day.”