San Benito to add decorative lighting

SAN BENITO — A project that would add decorative lighting to the city’s streets has been on the books for many years.

However, for sometime, city leaders have danced around the project, until now.

If they don’t move now, they could lose funding allocated to the project many years ago.

According to an update given last week by AEP spokesman Frank Espinoza, concrete decisions about the project have yet to be made.

After a lengthy discussion between city leaders, it was decided to add several decorative lighting fixtures next to the current downtown street lights.

City leaders have wanted to add decorative lighting in an effort to spruce up Sam Houston Boulevard a bit.

“We want to keep the existing lights and incorporate a mixture of decorative lights in between,” Espinoza said. “Where those lights are going to be has not been determined.”

The locations of the lights must be determined by the city.

As for construction cost, Espinoza said, “Because we’re going to leave the existing light, the overall cost will change. It will be less. But we cannot give a definitive cost right now, until those locations are determined.”

Once the job is designed, officials estimate design and construction will take between four and six months.

Mayor Celeste Sanchez hopes the work can be done by the holiday season.

“I was planning to decorate them for Christmas,” she said.

City leaders agreed it would be more efficient to break up the project into two phases.

Phase one would be eight blocks of downtown and phase two would be Heywood Street or the area near the museum.

Phases and locations have to be determined by the city also.

City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said by avoiding the railroad tracks, phase one could consist of eight blocks going from Adele up to the railroad tracks and phase two would be anything after the railroad tracks.

Breaking up the project would accomplish several things.

“It would help us design the project quicker and build it quicker and also allow the city to use funds more efficiently,” Espinoza said.

With a great project comes several barriers. However, Espinoza assures these barriers are easily tackled and crews can work around them.

The first is the railroad tracks on Sam Houston.

“We’ll just work around it. We will stop at a certain point and jump over it and start again,” Espinoza said.

Second is hurricane season.

If a storm were to occur, AEP’s responsibility would be to restore power.

The job would be put on hold in the event of a major storm.