Bay Bridge lights going dark amid last-ditch fundraising effort

The iconic lights, which have run along the Bay Bridge for 10 years, will go dark and dim on Sunday, but the fate of the public art exhibit that lit up the San Francisco Bay is still uncertain.

“It’s going to leave a hole in the sky and punch a hole in the heart of San Francisco,” said Ben Davis, founder of Illuminate, a nonprofit that helped start the art project with New York-based artist Leo Villareal in 2013.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, the 1.8-mile section of the west side of the bridge will be shut down and the LED lights, which first lit up exactly 10 years ago, will be dismantled, confirmed John Goodwin, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

But there is a glimmer of hope: Davis and his nonprofit launched a Hail Mary fundraiser this year to raise $11 million to keep the art project alive and are continuing their campaign to save the Bay Bridge lights to bring back after they have gone dark.

Davis made an appeal to the state’s millionaires to donate $10 million by Sunday to expand and improve lighting.

The goal, Davis told the Times in January, isn’t just replacing the LED lights on the west side of the bridge, which have suffered badly from the smog, the shaking and the elements they’ve been exposed to, and are constantly being repaired and had to be replaced suspended. Instead, Davis hoped to raise enough money to expand the project to both sides of the bridge and replace the lights with ones that better withstand the harsh environment on the bridge.

The project would require 50,000 lights, which would add another 10 years to the life of the display, he said. But for that, Davis needs 10 millionaires who each donate $1 million by Sunday.

An additional $1 million would be crowdfunded to match the expected $11 million asking price for the project.

At the time, Davis said it was uncertain what would happen to the display if the $11 million weren’t raised.

Davis said in an interview on Friday that the group is continuing its efforts to raise money for the project, but declined to say exactly how much progress has been made.

“We’re fine, but we still have work to do,” he said.

Earlier in the week, his nonprofit Illuminate continued to sponsor the fundraiser for the new light project called Bay Lights 360.

This time, however, the fundraiser was titled “Help Bring Back the Bay Lights.”

“A total of $11 million is needed for their return,” the group’s website reads.

On his Facebook page, Davis announced Thursday what he called the “soft start” for the crowdfunding effort to get the lights back on after Sunday.

“Let’s make some noise,” he wrote, along with a link to the donation page.

The crowdfunding effort to raise at least $1 million had raised just over $4,000, according to the site.

Davis said more information about the funds raised would be released over the weekend, and he still remained hopeful the lights display would eventually return to the bay. Bay Bridge lights going dark amid last-ditch fundraising effort

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