Golden Gate Bridge granted $400M in federal funds for repairs; Bay Bridge still in need of donations

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, January 26, 2023
Bay Area bridges counting on big dollars for big repairs
Two very important bridges in San Francisco - the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge - are counting on big dollars for big repairs.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Two very important bridges in San Francisco - the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge - are counting on big dollars for big repairs.

Fortunately, money for one of those projects got the green light Monday.

The Bay Bridge features a spectacular light display at night. But it's old and time and money are running out to replace it.

As for the Golden Gate Bridge, millions of dollars are needed to make sure it's safe for the "Big One."

There's a lot of love for San Francisco's 85-year-old Golden Gate Bridge.

"They visit San Francisco and the first thing at the top of the list is - how do I get to Golden Gate Bridge," said Mayor London Breed.

MORE: Golden Gate officials have plan to stop humming sound on span, report says

The Golden Gate is also a critical connector.

"It carries over 100,000 vehicles a day, about 37 million a year," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg. "There is only one Golden Gate Bridge and we are going to protect it."

$400 million in federal money has been green-lighted to help strengthen the main span of the Golden Gate.

Construction work begins next year.

"I think it very fitting that the very first round of our bridge investment program, which is one of the flagship elements of President Biden's five-year infrastructure package, we are looking after this vital asset," said Secretary Buttigieg.

A few miles away is the Bay Bay Bridge, it's already undergone massive modifications to become earthquake-safe.

VIDEO: Bridging the Faults - The catastrophic fall and slow rise of the Bay Bridge after Loma Prieta

On Oct. 17, 1989, ABC7 News reporter Leslie Brinkley was crossing the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on her way to a routine assignment. Her story and her life changed in 15 seconds when the bridge collapsed as the Loma Prieta earthquake hit.

For almost a decade, it has dazzled drivers, locals and visitors alike thanks to a spectacular light installation.

"More than 20 million people have a chance to enjoy the bay lights," said Ben Davis with Illuminate/TBL360 Project.

This year, the light show on the western span of the bridge may go dark. Davis explains why.

"The lights up there are suffering. They are failing at a rate faster than we can replace them," said Davis.

At least $11 million is needed in donations to update the bay lights art display and keep them up for a decade.

"The fundraising, the way we're working to do it here at illuminate, is to find 10 very generous patrons who can provide $1 million each to get us to the $10 million mark," said Davis.

Davis hopes supporters can help raise enough money by March to replace the bay lights.

"March 5 is the day the bay lights go dark," said Davis. "The sooner the funds can come it, the sooner the lights can come back."

Davis the new so called "TBL360 project" would bigger and brighter. With 48,000 new LED lights.

"We're actually doubling up the number of LEDs. And try to make the lights accessible to the entire Bay Area.

But until that happens, Davis says much more help is needed.

"This is a group effort of the Bay Area. It's a philanthropic moment," said Davis.

To help replace the lights on the Bay Bridge, the plan is also to raise $1 million of the total $11 million cost through crowd funding.

That particular fundraising effort kicks off March 5. Davis says the goal is to have the new display up and running by Dec.

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