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The Bay Bridge lights are going dark Sunday, the fate of the display uncertain


The iconic lights that have lined the Bay Bridge for 10 years are going out and coming down Sunday, but the fate of the public art display that has lit up San Francisco Bay is still uncertain.

“It will 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 launch the art project with New York-based artist Leo Villareal in 2013.

At 8 p.m. Sunday, the 1.8-mile stretch of the bridge’s western side will be closed and the LED lights first lit exactly 10 years earlier will be removed, confirmed Metropolitan Transportation spokesman John Goodwin Commission.

But there’s 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, continuing their campaign to bring back the Bay Bridge’s lights after they have darkened.

Davis launched a call for the state’s millionaires to donate $10 million by Sunday to expand and upgrade the lights.

The goal, Davis told The Times in January, was not just to replace the LED lighting on the west side of the bridge, which had taken a beating and required constant repair and replacement because of the smog, shaking and elements to which they are exposed. exposed. Instead, Davis hoped to raise enough money to expand the project to both sides of the bridge and replace the lights with ones more resistant to the bridge’s harsh conditions.

The project would require 50,000 bulbs, which would extend the life of the screen by another 10 years, he said. But to do that, Davis needs 10 millionaires to donate $1 million each by Sunday.

Another $1 million would be crowdfunded to meet the projected $11 million price tag for the project.

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

In an interview Friday, Davis said the group continued its efforts to raise money for the project, but declined to say exactly how much progress had been made.

“We are doing well, but we have more work to do,” he said.

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

However, this time the fundraiser was titled, Help bring back the Bay Lights.

“A total of $11 million is needed for their return,” the group states on its website.

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

“Let’s make some noise,” he said wrotealong with a link to the fundraising site.

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

Davis said more information about the money raised would be released over the weekend, and he remained hopeful that the lights would eventually return to the Bay.

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