$8M Selmon Expressway Beautification Project Runs Into Technical Issues

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority was looking to make an aesthetic upgrade to the Selmon Expressway extension with LED lights, but so far, the project has been plagued with issues.

“The money that we collect from the community goes back into the expressway either in projects or in community enhancements,” said Sue Chrzan with the Expressway Authority.

The project began in August of 2020, but it has run into a number of technical issues. The Expressway Authority spent roughly $8.5 million to add the lights.

The contract called for the LED lights to be wirelessly connected so the color of the lights can be programmed to fit a variety of occasions. However, electrical and WiFi connection issues have kept the lights from synchronizing as designed.

When the WiFi or electrical signal drops, an individual light section defaults to white which then shine directly into the eyes of drivers.

“We started putting these lights up, realized they were a little bright, turned them down,” Chrzan said.

But that did not fix the issue.

Chrzan said the lights still made it difficult for drivers to see while behind the wheel, so shields were installed. But one problem remained — the bad wireless connection.

“Remember back in the day when you had your Christmas lights, and you couldn’t put too big of a string together? That’s kind of what we are dealing with because it’s a 10 mile string of lights,” Chrzan said.

Under the terms of the contract, the lights must operate as designed for 40 consecutive days or the expressway authority does not have to sign off on the contract..

So far that hasn’t happened.

“It’s absolutely not working right,” Chrzan said. “We’re still in the testing stages.”

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