SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The Bay Bridge is about to get a lot brighter thanks to a new art display that will begin going up next month.

Funds have been raised to install 25,000 LED lights on the bridge as part of an $8 million installation known as The Bay Lights Project.

The privately funded “light sculpture” is being designed by Leo Villareal, who has created light installations in museums and public spaces around the country and world.

The lights, which will not be visible drivers on the bridge but can be seen from a distance, will be mounted on the vertical cables of the western span and will operate for about seven hours per night.

Permits for the project were awarded in August, and installation will begin next month, organizers said.

Two former San Francisco mayors, Willie Brown and now-Lt. Gov.

Gavin Newsom were on hand at a news conference Tuesday to announce the project.

“This is the kind of thing we need to do to remind people what a special place this is,” Newsom said. “I think this thing is going to blow people away.”

The lights will be installed during weekday overnight hours and will cause some lane closures on the upper deck of the bridge, but the effect on traffic is expected to be minimal, said Ben Davis, whose organization, Illuminate the Arts, is overseeing the project.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Organizers say the display will likely bring nearly $100 million a year in tourist dollars to the region.

“You look at The Gates in Central Park, it was up for only 15 days and generated about a quarter million dollars of revenue for that city,” said Bay Lights Executive Producer Amy Critchett.

The installation will be in place for two years, after which the permit expires.

Illuminate the Arts has collected $5.5 million for the project and is still seeking donors for the rest of the funding.

“We are going to raise the $2.5 million,” Davis said. “I think we’re going to do it relatively quickly, this is an inspiring piece and it does make a difference to our city.”

The March lighting ceremony will come just months before the new eastern span of the bridge is expected to open on Labor Day weekend in 2013.

For more information on how the project was funded, visit the Bay Lights website.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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