Construction will soon begin on what will be the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, after a Texas pastor agreed to a deal with a contractor on Monday.
The Rev. Richard "Rick" Milby signed a $189,000 engineering contract with Ambrose Construction Ltd. to begin constructing the foundation for the giant cross that will be erected by Abundant Life Fellowship in Corpus Christi, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times.
According to the plans, the cross has approval to be as tall as 230 feet and 95 feet wide, which would make it the second tallest cross in the world and the largest in the United States. Milby believes that the cross could become a tourist attraction and bring thousands of people to the town every year.
There are also plans to build a baptistery and prayer structure on the campus grounds.
"I think it's wonderful for Corpus Christi — we are the 'body of Christ,'" Corpus Christi Councilwoman Lucy Rubio said during a signing ceremony on Monday, according to the Caller Times. "I think it will be beautiful — very good for our city."
According to KrisTV, the original plans for the cross when ground was first broken about two years ago was for the cross to be about 150-feet tall. The plan for the cross was inspired after Milby and his family visited a 170-foot cross in Galveston.
"Since then it has grown now to its maximum [height]. We can build it in the flight pattern and the Federal Aviation Administration approved a 230-foot cross," Milby said, according to the news outlet. "It will be the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, and the second largest cross in the world."
KrisTV reports that the funding for the cross has been provided by private donations. Milby is just asking that the city waive permit fees.
"We are just asking the city to partner with us. And without putting money out of their pockets, without putting taxpayers out of their pockets, and stand down from the inspections and let the engineer who is doing the job, and who will do it anyway, let him make the inspection, and it will not cost the city a dime," Milby said. "And it will save us about $10,000 if they will do that."
Milby asked the city council during a public comment portion of a Jan. 9 meeting to waive the permits, saying that the cross would be a "landmark."
"I need your help," Milby said, according to the Corpus Christi Caller Times. "I've had no incentive from the city whatsoever to build this project."
"It's the gateway to Corpus Christi — it's a national landmark," he added.
Milby was subject to a lawsuit in 2016 over the fact that he invited the mayor and council members to the groundbreaking of the property in 2016. After the national religious freedom nonprofit First Liberty Institute came to Milby's aid, the lawsuit was dropped.
Milby told KrisTV that the hope is to have the project completed within one year.
The largest cross in the world stands at 495-feet tall and is located in Madrid, Spain, at the Valley of the Fallen. That cross sits on top of a rocky cliff and sits about 4,500 feet above sea level.