TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority hoped to light the elevated, reversible lanes of the roadway with decorative lighting.

In 2020 a contract was given, awarding $8 million dollars to illuminate the piers of the elevated expressway. The contract called for the lights to work without problems for 45 contentious days.

The lights still aren’t working and many have been removed.

“In the specs for the aesthetic lighting, we did the specs for highway lighting, which is grounding a certain way, putting the conduit a certain way, and having the circuitry a certain way,” said Sue Chrzan with the Tampa, Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

Chrzan said the lights were designed and built to highway standard, but because they are programmable LED lights that can offer many different colors and are designed to all work together, Chrzan said they are having more problems than typical highway lighting projects.

“We’ve learned the aesthetic lights are a little bit more delicate and that grounding didn’t work,” Chrzan said.

Now, many of the lights have been removed and the vendor is working to repair and replace them. Chrzan said one major problem is Florida’s climate lightning.

She says even if the lights don’t suffer a direct hit, lightning in the area can still cause problems, “So a lot of the lights got burned, even though they weren’t struck directly, because of all of the lightning and static in the air, they got burned and they got ruined,” Chrzan said.

Many people have taken issue with the $8 million dollar price tag.

“There’s no lights there. There goes taxpayer money, what did they spend the money on?” questioned John Hickey, who works near the expressway. “There’s no lights there. It’s nothing. Just a piece of metal.”

“It’s ridiculous, we could use the money for roads and stuff like that,” said Johnny Martinez, who has lived in Tampa his entire life. “That’s a lot of money, $8 million.”

Chrzan said they hope to have all of the lights repaired, replaced, and working by the summer of 2023.