The largest cross in America is coming to Corpus Christi.

The massive project is being spearheaded by Pastor Richard Milby from Abundant Life Fellowship Church. On Monday, he officially signed on a contractor to lay the foundation.

The construction site is near the refineries off Carbon Plant Road, near the on-ramp to northbound I-37. The empty lot may not look like much right now -- a six-foot tall wooden cross stands where the future one will be.

Milby said this project is two years in the making after facing a lawsuit some time ago that was eventually dropped. His goal is for the future Corpus Christi Cross to make the city famous.

"There are two rest stops at the top of I-37," Milby said. "From that vantage point you will be able to see the cross. When you come from the north across the new bridge from Portland, if you look across you'll be able to see the cross from there."

So how big will this cross be?

Upon completion, the Corpus Christi Cross will be 230 feet tall and 95 feet wide. Milby added the structure will require a 38-foot by 38-foot foundation with concrete poured seven feet deep. If that's not enough, support will extend 60 feet underground to keep the cross upright.

For comparison, the 22-story cross will be only 10 feet shorter than the bottom of the Harbor Bridge.

"The largest cross is in Madrid, Spain, so this will be the largest cross in America," Milby said. "The largest cross in the western hemisphere."

Milby said a cross is representative of Corpus Christi -- a monument with a lot of symbolism.

"So it's a picture of salvation, hope," the pastor said.

The Corpus Christi Cross does come at a hefty cost. Luckily, Milby said, he was able to get the City to discount the building permit. However, the total project will cost an estimated $2.5 million. That money will come from donations.

Surrounding the cross will be a platform big enough to hold 400 people, a statue of John the Baptist, a water feature and baptism pool that will be available to area Christian churches.

"This will be a tourist attraction as well," Milby said. "A welcome to our city. People can do photo ops as well, and stuff around the cross, so they've visited the Corpus Christi Cross. We'll be a national landmark."

Milby estimates the cross will bring in anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 visitors. He's basing that number off of the amount of visitors who have visited a giant cross in Kerrville, Texas. The visitors, he hopes, will be a boost to the Corpus Christi economy.

Milby said construction should begin as soon as he finishes securing contractors and hopes the entire site will be finished in over a year.

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