Time flies, right? It seems like just yesterday we were shedding tears over the Bay Lights being shut off on the Bay Bridge after two years of dancing LED splendor. But that was seven months ago! And CalTrans has apparently completed whatever painting work they were set to do on the western span of the Bay Bridge, and it's time for artist Leo Villareal's well loved artwork to return to give diners at Waterbar their nightly show.
As Villareal said earlier this year, after funds were secured to let the artwork live on another decade (at least), "I am humbled and honored that the people of the Bay Area have overwhelmingly expressed their interest in having the light sculpture remain and become part of their daily lives. There is no higher compliment you can pay a work of art than wanting to spend time with it.”
As CBS 5 reports, electricians and construction workers are set to begin the reinstallation on Wednesday night, with the goal set to have the lights back on December at least NBC Bay Area is saying the reinstallation will take 2 months, but the original stated goal was just to have the bridge relit before the Super Bowl, which is in early February.
The 1.8-mile-wide art installation, inspired by Villareal's earlier work with computer-programmed LEDs at Burning Man, was originally intended as a temporary work to last two years, but was so well received that the foundation backing it, Illuminate the Arts, was able to raise $4 million last year in order to sign a maintenance agreement with CalTrans for the next 10 years partly with the help of a single $2 million grant from Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube.
Reinstallation requires 25,000 LED units that will be more robust than those used originally, as they will need to withstand the elements for a longer period of time. Initial trouble with some of the LEDs breaking due to moisture and wind was quickly solved in June 2013 with the help of a $1.5 million gift by WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg.
According to Illuminate the Arts, "A group of more than 20 independent analysts from leading firms such as McKinsey, Deloitte, Google, Facebook and city agencies unanimously agreed that The Bay Lights boosts the regional economy by more than $100 million annually."