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KFOX14 Investigates: Multimillion-dollar Airway art motionless for nine months

Airway Art project .jpg

A multimillion-dollar art piece in El Paso is at a stand standstill right now.

El Pasoans may have noticed the wind turbines along I-10 at Airway and Gateway Boulevard haven’t moved since the beginning of the year. The wind is what generates power for the installation to light up.

The Airway Art project has become an iconic part of the city's landscape. The $7.5 million dollar project you paid for, has received national and international recognition.

As, KFOX14 first reported, wind broke a blade on one of the turbines on the art installation.

That happened in January, and nine months later the installation remains motionless.

KFOX14 Investigates has been asking the city for answers for more than a month, and we finally got some Wednesday.

“For safety and security, the brakes were placed on all the turbines,” said

Tracey Jerome, the director of museum and Cultural cultural affairs for the City of El Paso.

Jerome said replacing the parts isn't as simple as visiting the hardware store.

“This isntisn't something that comes off the shelf, it's a piece of art that's been created,” said Jerome.

Complicating factorsthings, the company that made the pieces used by the artist was taken over by another company and is now based in China.

“Working with them has been challenging. So we are working to find proper supplies to re-create the blade,” said Jerome.

Now, the city is trying to find another company to make the part and fix the turbine.

“We think we've come up with a very responsible, very reasonably priced solution to getting the repair back up and running,” said Jerome.

Jerome said the repair may cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000.

She said around $30,000 is budgeted every year for maintenance and repairs for the public art program.

“No matter how well something is built, depending on the challenges that can come with it, you can have issues. So we've had a small bit of damage there, we're addressing it and we will continue to move forward,” said Jerome.

Fixing the blade isn't the only expense. When they're spinning, they power the lights, which are still on.

Jerome says the city has to use electricity to keep the display from going dark.

“We aren't going to turn off the electricity and not light that site,” said Jerome.

KFOX4 Investigates asked if that’s causing an the electric bill to be more expensive.

“What I will say to you, is that yes, I don't have my electric bill in front of me. So what I will say is that we will be as fiscally responsible as we can be,” said Jerome.

Jerome said the city is aiming to have the project back up and running in the next eight weeks.

“People are very connected to that piece,” said Jerome.

KFOX4 Investigates asked the city for the cost of keeping the project lit, we. We'll bring you those numbers when we receive them from the city.

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