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NEMA's eiXtra: June 15, 2009
eiXtra: published by NEMA Hot Topics
On the Hill/Around the Nation
International News
Monday, June 15, 2009
feature story
Sylvania LEDs and T5 Lamps are a First for CTA Subway Station Signage

Chicago’s Past, Present, and Future Intersect at the Dearborn/Jackson Station

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Blue Line subway station at Dearborn between Jackson and Van Buren in Chicago’s central business district links the city’s rich architectural history with plans for the future. A planned station renovation included four improved subway entrance signs. The existing subway entrances at other stations were lit with neon signage that was problematic and provided unreliable and inconsistent lighting for transit riders. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), as a part of the station improvement, wanted to upgrade to a more reliable and environmentally friendly lighting that improved pedestrian safety and fit the character of the historic block.

The station and lighting upgrade was initiated by the Chicago Central Area Plan, which detailed the city’s potential for growth and innovation. The Central Area Plan provided a vision to preserve the city’s historic places and maintain a commitment to transit first and smart energy management by using new technologies.

The Solution:

The project was led by Tom Ambry of CDOT to improve and redesign the entire station and entrance signage. FH Paschen and MG Electrical Contracting were under contract to perform the work. Together, they selected and contracted with Brook Electrical Distribution Company to provide the new version of the subway entrance signs. Andy Lynch of Brook Electrical Distribution Company initiated a collaborative process with CDOT, CTA, Muller & Muller Architects, FH Paschen, MG Electrical Contracting, and the manufacturers, including Sylvania. The team developed a solution that was energy efficient, low maintenance, and durable.

The sign was designed using the latest lighting technology of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products from Sylvania. The sign was modeled to ensure optimal visibility of and proper letter placement. The faces of the signs were lit with white Sylvania light emitting diodes (LEDs) while the stairs were lit using Sylvania T5 high lumen single-ended twin-tube fluorescent lamps. The selection of Sylvania lighting components were recommended by Andy Lynch of Brook Electrical Distribution Company.

The new signage is double-sided and straddles a "box channel" that spans the posts like "saddle bags." To promote safety and security, a covert built-in surveillance camera was integrated into the bottom of the sign, preserving the facades of the surrounding historic buildings.

The new subway signs are the first CTA signs to use LEDs, T5 high lumen single-ended twin-tube fluorescent lamps, and surveillance cameras. The new signage makes the three subway entrances visible from three blocks away, helping pedestrians find the subway station quickly and easily. CTA and CDOT are very pleased with the end result, which uses 60 percent less energy, compared to the previous signs lit by neon. The signage has a life expectancy of seven years without maintenance, furthering savings for CTA and CDOT.

The collaboration between the design and install teams is an example to the people of Chicago and the world that Chicago respects and embraces its past and has plans for the future to showcase this world-class city.

We thank you for your cooperation in improving the quality of our materials.
Please contact Bill Green
at if you have any questions related to eiXtra.

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On the Hill/Around the Nation

State Plays with Fire by Diluting Electrical Code
The Indiana Fire Prevention and Building Commission recently did Indiana residents a great disservice by deleting a nationally recognized safety requirement from the state's electrical codes ("State won't mandate safer circuit breakers," June 3).

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International News

Eskom Plans to use Economic Downturn to Reduce Capital Costs
Changes in market conditions present a significant opportunity for Eskom to reduce the capital costs of its new build program, acting MD of the enterprises division Braam Conradie told delegates at the South African National Energy Association (SANEA) Action for Energy conference.

First Quantum Could Build Africa Copper Smelter
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Industry News


Mergers & Acquisitions


  • Thomas & Betts Announces Leadership Change
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  • General Cable Names Two Sales Vice Presidents
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