TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For nearly a year, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority has been trying to get a decorative light project under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to work.
A contract for the lighting project allocated $8 million for specially designed LED lights that would illuminate the piers on the roadway.
Despite the enormous cost, the lights are still not working and about 10% of them have to be removed for repairs. A spokesperson for the Expressway Authority said they still aren’t certain when the system will be functional.
“Well, we have certainly taken some time to figure out exactly what the actual issue is with the lights,” Keisha Pickett Boyd said. “We think, well, we are pretty sure that will allow us to not have to fix them again.”
She said it appears that lightning knocked out many of the lights, and a new contract will have to be put out to make the system work.
The solution sounds simple.
“Grounding, basically,” Pickett Boyd said. “We kind of underestimated the power of the lights and the type of lights that we had. So, we had to go back and do a little upgrading on our grounding so we can support the aesthetic lights.”
However, the cost of the new contract could add several hundred thousand dollars on top of the original $8 million contract.
Pining the Expressway Authority down on a cost estimate for the new contract wasn’t easy.
“You know, we don’t know yet, because we are still doing some research,” Pickett Boyd said. “We haven’t put the bid out just yet.”
When a reporter asked her if the new contract could be at least $600,000, Pickett Boyd’s answer was less than illuminating.
“Maybe, hopefully, but once again, we’ll see,” she said.
The Expressway Authority hopes to put out a request for bids in the next two weeks on the project and now says it will be sometime in 2024 before the lights are fully functional.
The original contract called for the system to work for 45 continuous days without problems before the job is considered complete. So far, that hasn’t happened.