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The Bay Lights to Shine on Beginning Jan. 30

Kingmond Young

The Bay Lights, the brilliant LED sculpture that graced the West Span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge from 2013 to 2015, officially will be re-lit at 7:25 p.m. during a ceremony on January 30, 2016. Viewers can see the light sculpture from the Embarcadero waterfront or by boats traveling north of the bridge. The Bay Lights’ return coincides with the start of Super Bowl Week, for which San Francisco is the host city. The week culminates with Super Bowl 50, which will be held February 7 at the new Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara.

The Bay Lights have been dark since March 2015, when the sculpture was removed to allow Caltrans to perform maintenance on the bridge’s cables. Reinstallation of new, more resilient strands of LEDs, designed to endure the harsh environment of the Bay, began in October 2015.

The Bay Lights is a monumental light sculpture made of 25,000 LEDs and designed by artist Leo Villareal. Unveiled in March 2013 and originally intended as a temporary adornment to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Bay Bridge, the dazzling installation became a treasured jewel that attracted many admirers to the San Francisco waterfront.

Illuminate the Arts (ITA), the nonprofit that conceptualized the Bay Lights, successfully raised $4 million in private funds in 2014 to pay for new equipment and reinstallation of the artwork. MTC’s Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) Oversight Committee in December 2014 approved a memorandum of understanding that paved the way for the temporary art installation to become a long-term feature on the Bay. BATA unanimously agreed to fund the operation and maintenance of the LED installation, at a cost of $250,000 a year. BATA’s decision helped set the stage for the removal of the original Bay Lights and the reinstallation of the new LEDs that will become a fixture of the West Span for at least 10 more years.

Illuminate the Arts (ITA) has announced that after the re-lighting on January 30, the Bay Lights will be gifted to the State of California and maintained by Caltrans, just like the necklace lights on the West Span’s suspension cables.

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