Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge Lights Display Goes Dark

NBC Universal, Inc.

The aging decorative lights illuminating the Bay Bridge were turned off Sunday night.

"It’s bittersweet," said Leo Villareal, the artist who designed the Bay Bridge lights display more than a decade ago. "It’s been an amazing 10-year run."

Villareal only expected the display to last a couple of years. He said he's especially proud of how the lights over the Bay's waters have touched countless lives and united so many people for special occasions.

"I often describe the piece as a digital camp fire," he said. "I truly believe that it has this kind of quality of this elemental thing that we’re all attracted to as humans."

But the old lights were beginning to flicker out as the illuminated display neared its electrical life expectancy after 10 years.

"The Bay Lights are going down because these current lights are suffering in the harsh conditions of the San Francisco Bay," said Ben Davis, Illuminate founder and chief visionary officer.

Davis, who first brought the light display to the Bay in 2013, is now leading an effort to raise $11 million to pay for a new illuminated creation with twice as many LED bulbs – 50,000 of them.

"They’ll be on both sides of the cable, which makes the artwork available to communities all around the Bay as a matter of aesthetic equity," Davis said.

Until the money is raised and the new lights are installed, the bridge will be dark, with the exception of the traffic lights lining the roadway.

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