This is "It!"
by Keith Burton - GCN 12/22/07
The first of Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr's "decorative" street lights are finally going up on U.S. 90 just east of the Island View Casino.
Electricians and work crews began installing some of the new lights along the roadway after months of groundwork, which included burying conduit, constructing pedestal bases and wiring electrical cable.
The new lights are finished in black paint and hang from poles nearly 40 feet from the ground. The lights include globes that hang from a fixture mounted on a curled support.
Warr has long said that he wanted to give his city a different look. The decorative lights are part of his plan to distinguish Gulfport from Biloxi, which used the traditional "cobra" style highway light fixtures. His plan took time to implement as Biloxi had most of its lights installed within weeks of the power being restored on U.S. 90 after Katrina. The last section of the Biloxi's lights, those along the Biloxi strip, were activated late last month.
Many Gulfport residents were upset over how long it is taking to get the lights up and running. The lights being installed now are just a fraction of the work needed to get all of the streetlights up and it will be weeks, or even several months, before the project is completed.
Last month, several prototype lights were placed that were installed on short poles, which looked odd next to the highway. The new lights and their poles are more than twice as tall. Unlike the light poles in Biloxi that are just stuck into the ground, Gulfport's lights rest on sturdy concrete foundations with a base designed to support the poles. This should make the pole stay vertical. Many of the streetlights in Biloxi angle away from vertical, which makes the lights look haphazardly placed.
The work on the lights, which began in August, is costing the city $2.1 million dollars. The project will place lights from Debuys Road to Lewis Avenue near the Long Beach city limits. The contractor for the project is B&B Electrical & Utility Contractors, Inc.