Route 66 Gateway Archways

Driving along historic Route 66 through Albuquerque, New Mexico, a brightly lit, two-sided gateway serves as an entrance into town.

Route 66 Gateway Archways – High resolution download
Route 66 Gateway Archways – Low resolution download

The sign’s neon fixtures kept failing and were hard to maintain, so the city changed out the neon for Plexineon, which look like neon but is more energy-efficient and durable.

Route 66 Gateway Archways – High resolution download
Route 66 Gateway Archways – Low resolution download

Preserving the Past 

City of Albuquerque chooses Plexineon to restore iconic archways along Route 66

Neon has long been part of the experience of driving along historic Route 66 through Albuquerque, New Mexico. Displayed sporadically along the road through the city, a two-sided archway and seven Route 66 signposts echo the art deco design and architecture that is characteristic of Albuquerque’s Old Town area.

But the bright light of neon had a downside: every few months, it would fail. Just as one sign was repaired, another would fail. It became a never-ending cycle.

The city was looking to retain the look of neon, while reducing energy costs and costly repairs. Leading the project for the city were Tony Gurule, Energy and Sustainability Program Manager, and Saif Ismail, Energy Specialist Program Manager. They looked to RKL Sales, a lighting manufacturers’ representative, for guidance. Kevin Burke from RKL Sales suggested iLight’s Plexineon LED fixtures as a remedy to the ongoing problem.

The Design Challenge

“Once we showed them Plexineon, they were really excited that it looked so much like neon,” says Alex Tackman, Principal at RKL Sales. “We also explained to them how durable the product is, and the electrical contractor was impressed with how easy it would be to install and service.”

“Larry Eckhardt at U.S. Electrical raved about the ease of installation and great technical support from the factory.”
– Alex Tackman, Principal, RKL Sales Corp.

Rather than replace the archway and signs as they failed, the city decided to convert all of the neon to Plexineon at once. Many colors were selected: orange, blue, teal, and magenta. Next, attention turned to execution.

“One of the challenges was the need to shut the road down for installation. We needed to find ways to minimize that inconvenience for residents and visitors,” Tackman says.

Among the solutions, iLight worked with U.S. Electrical Corp., the electrical contractor, so that all the product could be bent in-house — avoiding the need to bend in the field. As a result, Tackman says, “They were able to slip the fixtures right into the channels.” He adds, “For anything we needed to be efficient, iLight was responsive. Larry Eckhardt at U.S. Electrical raved about the ease of installation and great technical support from the factory.”

The Plexineon Advantage

The fixtures were installed in phases starting two years ago, but today the Plexineon looks the same as it did from the start.

“I drove by one the other day and it still looks like it did when installed,” Tackman says. “The city loves how it looks.”

He adds that the high visibility made the project a wise investment. “It’s the gateway — the first impression as you drive into town along Route 66,” he says. “It’s a great point of reference indicating you are in historic Albuquerque.”

Plexineon is available in a range of colors, including the orange, blue, teal and magenta shades the city wanted.

Route 66 Gateway Archways – High resolution download
Route 66 Gateway Archways – Low resolution download

One of Plexineon’s advantages was that it could be bent to echo the art deco design and architecture that is characteristic of Albuquerque’s Old Town area. All bends were done in-house, not in the field.

Route 66 Gateway Archways – High resolution download
Route 66 Gateway Archways – Low resolution download

Route 66 Gateway Archways – High resolution download
Route 66 Gateway Archways – Low resolution download

 

Project Details

PROJECT
Route 66 Gateway Archways

SITE
Albuquerque, NM

LOCATION
Exterior Application

PRODUCT USE
Direct View

LIGHTING REPRESENTATIVE
RKL Sales Corp

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR
U.S. Electrical Corp.

PRODUCT
Plexineon Plexineon Orange, Blue, Teal, and Magenta

LENGTH
890 LF (271 m)