By September, drivers crossing over the Harbor Bridge may not see the color light display that has been an eye grabber for more than a decade.
That’s because city of Corpus Christi staff want to remove the decorative lighting system on the bridge.
However, the final decision will be up to City Council, which is scheduled to consider the removal during its regular meeting Tuesday.
Lighting parts have detached and fallen from the bridge due to corrosion of its metal brackets, City Manager Peter Zanoni said. The brackets’ useful life was five years. The system has now been up for more than 10 years.
Several months ago, a bridge light fell into a Texas State Aquarium Parking lot underneath the bridge. And roughly two weeks ago, light strips held by the aging metal brackets began disconnecting.
“It’s a hazard,” Zanoni said.
The city has continued to inspect the lighting system daily to ensure drivers and pedestrians are safe.
In December, City Council gave approval to LaPorte-based Pfeiffer & Son to inspect the lighting and secure or remove any pieces that could fall off.
The company installed the lights in 2010. At the time, the city chose not to follow a recommendation to install stainless steel brackets.
Pfeiffer & Son found the system’s metal mounting brackets, which are encased in plastic pipes, are “severely corroded and unstable” and “can break at anytime,” according to city documents.
Pfeiffer & Son, along with the Texas Department of Transportation and Scott Electric, has made several repairs to the lighting over the past year.
City staff is recommending the City Council approve an agreement for $448,725 with Pfeiffer & Son to remove the lights, according to an agenda memo for council’s regular meeting Tuesday.
Council could also choose to spend up to $1 million for the company to fix the system, instead of removing the lights. Pfeiffer & Son would replace the corroded mounting brackets with stainless steel ones and repair some of the lighting over a period of 16 weeks, according to the memo.
“It’s a financial decision. It’s a million dollars to restore the lights and remount them, and given all the need — that would pave a lot of streets in the city,” Zanoni said. “While they do provide an iconic feature for the community, it won’t be long before the new bridge is up.”
Construction of the new Harbor Bridge has been underway since 2016. It will have a built-in lighting system, Zanoni said.
How will it be paid for?
Council was initially scheduled to review the removal recommendation May 25, but the item was pulled from its meeting, Zanoni said. City staff was still working out how the system removal would be paid for in regard to contributions from the Texas Department of Transportation and the Port of Corpus Christi Authority.
The lights were installed in 2010 as part of a funding agreement between the city, TxDOT, and the port.
Zanoni has worked out arrangements with the port and TxDOT. The port will discount $150,000 from of the cost of placing dredge material on its property. The city is dredging silt out of the Corpus Christi Marina as part of its restoration project.
TxDOT will perform $150,000 of upgrades to one of its roads that the city maintains.
“We think that’s a good compromise by both entities, and continues the partnership that we’ve had all along with the installation and the maintenance of the lights over the past 11 years,” Zanoni said.
Kathryn Cargo follows business openings and developments while reporting on impacts of the city government’s decisions.See our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe.