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City says money spent on Tricentennial manhole covers isn't going down the drain

(Photo: SBG San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio has spent a lot of money on events and public art commemorating the city's Tricentennial, including some things you may walk right over without noticing.

We’re talking about the special edition Tricentennial storm drain cover. You paid thousands of dollars extra for the 300 logo, plus we ordered more of them than we usually do.

The city says it's received a lot of positive feedback on them from visitors. So we went out to talk to some.

None of the tourists we spoke to in Alamo Plaza had noticed the storm drain covers, even though a couple of them had been installed in the sidewalk a few feet away.

A woman from Canada seemed unimpressed when we showed one to her.

“Not really. I think you could have done a better job but it is the 300-year anniversary so it is a milestone," she said.

The city says the special storm drain covers cost the same as ordinary ones, but there was an extra cost of $24,000 to make the mold for the logo. The city ordered 300 of them, which is 100 more than they usually do, so that's another $20,500. Meaning the total extra spent on the project comes to $44,500.

The director of the city's Transportation and Capital Improvements Department told us what gave him the idea to have them made.

“It's the excitement about Tricentennial. Given the rich history of San Antonio, the world heritage designation that we have, and the fact these are going to be here for a hundred years, we feel it was well worth it," said Director Mike Frisbie.

Frisbie says the ordinary drain covers replaced by the new ones will go back into inventory and not be wasted. And the larger purchase means the city won't have to buy anymore covers for a couple of years at least.

“So what do you think of our storm drain covers?” Reporter Jaie Avila asked a couple from Louisiana.

“We don't see any," they responded, looking around.

A couple of tourists told us they liked the look of the covers, once they noticed them. The said with so much to look at around San Antonio, like the architecture and the Alamo, they aren’t really looking down at the sidewalk.

“Maybe if they had a stand here announcing it, some kind of plaque or something. Or maybe if it was in a different color," one visitor said.

We may have to wait for the city’s Quadricentennial for those changes.

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