Bay Bridge lights go dark after 10 years, millions needed to bring them back

After ten years, the Bay Bridge lights display has been turned off, and it’s unknown when, or if, the lights will return. 

The artists need to raise $11 million to bring them back and said they are confident they can reach that goal. 

With the push of a button, the Bay Bridge went dark Sunday night. The "Bay Lights" – an art installation that twinkled on the western span for ten years – turned off. The lights will now be taken down. 

Ben Davis, the founder and chief visionary officer with "Illuminate," an arts nonprofit, said the display has been badly damaged by the harsh elements over the years. 

"The lights up there now are failing faster than we can keep them up," said Davis. 

Davis said they are raising money to bring the Bay Lights back. But it could take time. Illuminate needs to secure $11 million to get the project off the ground. Davis said they are already past the halfway point. 

"We have $6 million pledged and that means all that stands between where we are when we go dark and this project coming back is four one-million-dollar gifts," said Davis. 

If Illuminate secures that money, the artist’s plan is to install 50,000 custom LEDs which would make the artwork more visible to people around the Bay Area.

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Earlier in the night, we found people taking pictures, and walking to the water for one last look at the iconic display. 

Pete Sittnick, the managing partner at the restaurants Waterbar and Epic Steak said just about everybody who made reservations Sunday wanted a view of the bridge. 

"They want to experience it for one last time, which I totally get because these have been an inspirational part of the restaurants and the waterfront for the past ten years," said Sittnick. 

Neighbors said they would miss seeing the lights out their windows. 

"Oh we love them," said Ashley Chung. "That’s actually why I chose the apartment in the first place. It was a major selling point."

"I feel a little bit sad about it," said Chung’s roommate Bell Nasamran. "I mean living close to here, I see them every morning and every night. I feel like it will be really different to see it dark."

If enough money is raised, it could take eight to ten months to complete the project. That means the earliest the lights could return is sometime in November.