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Bay Bridge Light Display Goes On The Blink

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The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is illuminated with artist Leo Villareal's Bay Lights sculpture on March 5, 2013 in San Francisco. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is illuminated with artist Leo Villareal’s Bay Lights sculpture on March 5, 2013 in San Francisco. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The new $8 million light show on the Western Span of the Bay Bridge is having problems less than three months after the switch was flipped on.

CBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier reported Monday that the display, known as “The Bay Lights,” has experienced some technical difficulties.

The 25,000 LED light display was turned on in March with some fanfare from city officials, but now operators say they are having trouble controlling some of those units. Some lights won’t turn on, while others won’t shut off.

Organizers are now scrambling to figure out where the issue is coming from and how to resolve it. Crews are performing visual inspections, studying data from the display’s computer brain located in the Center Anchorage, along with examining weather patterns.

“The Bay Bridge, it may look still from the ground, but it’s constantly vibrating. It’s a high wind environment. It also is subjected to salty air from the bay and rain and fog,” Ben Davis of Illuminate the Arts, who came up with the light display, told KPIX 5. “So it’s a pretty harsh environment for electronic and data equipment to live.”

The privately-funded project, created by artist Leo Villareal, is supposed to run for nearly two more years. Project organizers said the display still needs $1.5 million dollars to run through May 2015. 50 million people are expected to take in the display over that time.

“We have a maintenance budget for The Bay Lights, but it may be that budget is inadequate for the first wave of challenges we’re facing,” Davis said.

Organizers told KPIX 5 that they want to leave the lights on as long as possible. The public will be told in advance if the lights need to be turned off for repairs.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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