The arts organization behind the Bay Bridge’s Bay Lights project says they’re just $250,000 shy of the $11 million they need to turn those lights back on — and this time, cover both sides of the bridge with lights.

The celebrated Bay Bridge LED light display, The Bay Lights, was shut off a year ago this month (though they came back on briefly a week later because of a “glitch”). Still, artist Leo Villareal’s pulsating, 1.8-mile, 25,000-light installation on the bridge had an on-and-off, ten-year run of dazzling the night skies over the Bay.

But it burned out in 2023, because the sponsoring arts organization Illuminate did not have the $11 million necessary for the required maintenance and repairs for the enormous piece, which gets battered by wind and rain every winter, and by salty sea air year round.


But fast forward to January of this year, and Illuminate announced they’d raised $10 million of the $11 million they needed. And now a couple months later, KTVU reports that Illuminate is only $250,000 shy of their goal.  

What’s more, the new version of the Bay Lights would cover both sides of the bridge, not just the western side. So the new version would have 50,000 lights, not just 25,000.

"It will represent San Francisco,” Illuminate founder Ben Davis told KTVU. “It will be shown during every sporting event, every moment. It sort of takes our bridge, the Bay Bridge, and creates the nighttime equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is the world’s bridge."

This version would be designed to last some ten years, though the previous version came with that promise, and broke down several years sooner than that.

And even once Illuminate hits that $11 million goal, installation could take up to a year.

This would not be the first time that the Bay Lights shut off and came back on. The lights were turned off in 2015 for bridge repainting, but were turned back on in time for the Super Bowl that was “in” San Francisco the following year. (The game, of course, was played in Santa Clara).

Again, the project is just $250,000 shy of its $11 million goal, and you can make a donation to the Bay Lights online.

Related: Bay Lights on the Bay Bridge Scheduled To Be Shut Off Sunday Night [SFNews]

Image: Illuminate.org