Bay Bridge Bay Lights Will Go Dark Until 2016

The Bay Bridge's stunning Bay Lights display will soon be unplugged.

SF Weekly reports that the lights are going off so that Caltrans can perform maintenance work, but they will be back as a permanent part of the western span before the Super Bowl in 2016 thanks to more than $4 million in donations.

Designed by artist Leo Villareal, the Bay Lights is the world's largest LED light sculpture, spanning 1.8 miles of the Bay Bridge and soaring 500 feat high with 25,000 individual LED lights. The installation has been on display daily since March 2013.

"I am humbled and honored that the people of the Bay Area have overwhelmingly expressed their interest in having the light sculpture remain and become part of their daily lives," the artist said in a statement. "There is no higher compliment you can pay a work of art than wanting to spend time with it."

The project website, maintained by Illuminate the Arts, states that a group of 20 independent analysts from firms including McKinsey, Deloitte and Google have agreed that The Bay Lights has boosted the regional economy by more than $100 million a year.

According to Illuminate the Arts' Twitter feed, the organization is working on a limited edition, photo-driven "gratitude" book of the project.

Members of the public are invited to two free events to mark the temporary closure, states SF Weekly. Embarcadero restaurant Waterbar will give LED tea lights to the first 1000 people to show up on the patio on March 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Villareal will speak at 8 p.m. A public event with free coffee and pastries and a live performance by The Sunrise String Quartet will be held next door on the patio at EPIC Roasthouse on March 6 beginning at 5:45 a.m. for the final hour of the installation.

As these lights go dark, another set will illuminate: SF Chronicle reports that the nearby Ferry Building in San Francisco will have lights for the numerals 1915 installed on the tower in honor of the 1915 Exposition beginning on March 3.

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