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Published: Wednesday, 7/23/2008

Skyway pylon lights on the blink

The Ohio Department of Transportation will try today and tomorrow to determine the cause of a recent failure in the internal lighting system on the Veterans' Glass City Skyway's central pylon, the top of which has been dark for several weeks.

Officials believe that "data enablers" for the pylon's light-emitting diode arrays were damaged by lightning during one of several recent thunderstorms, Theresa Pollick, a spokesman at ODOT's district office in Bowling Green, said yesterday.

But whether the LED arrays themselves were damaged, and why lightning could have damaged the system at all when the 400-foot pylon is equipped with a lightning rod, remains to be determined, the spokesman said.

A repair crew will travel up the pylon's service elevators to investigate the problem. No lane closings will be required, Ms. Pollick said.

The pylon lighting system contains 13,824 LEDs that can be programmed to show different colors in various patterns. The programming allows the arrays to change gradually over time, at a slow enough speed that it won't distract motorists on I-280, which crosses the Maumee River on the bridge.

The LEDs are inlaid in chambers behind panels of frosted glass that start 70 feet above the roadway and extend up to the pylon's tip.

The system cost an estimated $650,000 for materials and installation.

The lighting problem has not affected blinking aviation lights on the pylon.

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