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Falling lights on Long Beach boardwalk prompt evaluation

Long Beach removed 45 hanging lights from the

Long Beach removed 45 hanging lights from the boardwalk as a precaution. Credit: Corey Sipkin

Several lights that recently came crashing down onto the Long Beach boardwalk prompted city officials to remove dozens as a precaution and review the stability of the remaining fixtures. 

The city evaluated each of the 113 LED light fixtures on the boardwalk in January after three of them — each weighing up to 60 pounds — fell during high winds, officials said. Workers determined that 45 more lights needed to be taken down because they were in danger of falling. 

Four others had fallen over the past two years during significant wind storms, but it was the latest damage that forced the city to do a full review, acting City Manager John Mirando said. 

None of the lights fell near pedestrians or caused damage to the Brazilian walnut Ipe wood boardwalk that was rebuilt after superstorm Sandy. The early-generation LED lights were retrofitted into standard light fixtures and installed in 2013, and each of the teardrop lights weigh between 50 and 60 pounds. 

The lights most prone to falling were in open areas between buildings where sea winds whip over the boardwalk, Mirando said.

“After the first four fell, they all had unique circumstances near open channels,” he said. “When the other three fell, we knew we needed to find a solution.”

The light fixtures hang on a pole with three bolts and screws. Heavy winds and the salt air damaged the lights by oxidizing the screws as they loosened and grinded through a ball joint, Mirando said.

“Between the winds and vibrations where there was an open channel of air between the buildings, the lights just rocked off and the fixtures dropped straight down,” Mirando said.

The light poles have been cordoned off with barricades of snow fencing cautioning pedestrians to keep their distance.

Long Beach had a five-year warranty with Illinois-based Sternberg Lighting after they were installed across the new $40 million 2.2 miles of boardwalk.

The city asked the North Amityville-based Magniflood lighting company, which previously worked on falling streetlights on the George Washington Bridge, to handle the review.

City officials said the falling lights appear to be a design flaw and will ask Sternberg to pay or repair the lights. 

The city may need to replace all 113 light fixtures and determine whether poles can be retrofitted or need to be replaced.

City officials said they hope the new lights will be installed by Memorial Day.