'Bay Lights' receives $1.5M gift; display issues identified 

click to enlarge The "Bay Lights" project on the western span of the Bay Bridge has received a major donation, and the lights that have been malfunctioning will soon be repaired.
  • The "Bay Lights" project on the western span of the Bay Bridge has received a major donation, and the lights that have been malfunctioning will soon be repaired.

The final portion of funding for "The Bay Lights" art installation on the Bay Bridge has come in, along with news of a fix to some of the display's broken lights, project officials said Friday.

The light show on the western span of the bridge was created by artist Leo Villareal and was turned on in March. It has been illuminating the bridge in various abstract designs each night between sunset and 2 a.m.

The $8 million project was $1.5 million short of its fundraising goals to maintain the display, but project officials announced Friday that blogging platform WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg donated the remaining amount.

Mullenweg had also previously given $100,000 at the start of the project's fundraising campaign.

Along with the fundraising news, project officials also announced today a fix planned for some of the 25,000 LED lights that have not worked properly since May.

A technical team earlier this month was tasked with determining why some of the lights were stuck in the on or off position.

The crew analyzed 1.8 miles of hardware and software and considered environmental factors including high winds, rain, fog, salty air and vibrations from motorists crossing the span before reaching the conclusion that the environmental conditions were affecting the lights.

The exposure to the elements had caused some of the light nodes made by light manufacturer Philips Color Kinetics to malfunction, project officials said.

With the company taking full responsibility for the technical issues, the lights are expected to be repaired and the show will go on, project officials said.

The project is being overseen by the San Francisco-based nonprofit Illuminate the Arts.

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