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EDINBURG, RGV – An additional 30.64 miles of border walls with levees in Hidalgo County would have a total construction cost of approximately $327.6 million, with a total development cost of approximately $378.9 million.

The total construction cost per mile would be almost $10.7 million. The total development cost per mile would be more than $12.3 million.

Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia

Seven segments of the wall-levee combo, totaling 30.64 miles, would have to be built to connect to the eight segments of border walls-levees that currently exist in Hidalgo County. Those eight segments, totaling 20.72 miles, were completed in 2008.

The 20.72 miles of border walls and levees built in Hidalgo County during the last decade had a final construction cost of $196.3 million, with a total development cost of approximately $216.9 million. The total construction cost per mile was $9.5 million. The total development cost per mile was almost $10.5 million.

Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1, which comprises Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and its four county commissioners, supports the border wall-levee combo construction plan and has sent a letter explaining its support to U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. The letter says that is for the attention of U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly. Garcia chairs HCDD No. 1.

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly

In the letter, Garcia says the plan provides “much needed flood protection against waters from the Rio Grande River, while at the same time providing border security to our great nation.”

Even though border wall construction and levee repair is a federal responsibility, Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 proposes a 90/10 cost allocation, with DHS paying for 90 percent and Hidalgo County ten percent.

The plan has been prepared for HCDD No. 1 by Dannenbaum and L&G Engineering.

A copy of the letter is attached at the end of this story.

The plan, going west to east comprises:

1) Construction of the Mission Levee, around the Madero area, covering 7.33 miles. It is known as Prop O-4D on HCDD No. 1’s official documents. It would cost an estimated $82.6 million to construct, with a total development cost of $95.5 million. It would connect to 4.35 miles of existing wall-levee to the west and the Main Floodway at Anzalduas Dam to the east.

2) Construction of the Common Levee, south of Granjeno, would start next to the Main Floodway at Anzalduas Dam and would stretch eastward for 5.23 miles. Known as Prop O-6D on HCDD No. 1’s official documents and would cost $59.3 million to construct, with a total development cost of $68.5 million.

3) Construction of the Hidalgo County Loop Levee would cover 0.79 miles. It is known as Prop O-6E on HCDD No. 1’s official documents and runs south from Prop O-6D to an existing wall-levee that runs south and then west for 3.86 miles. The construction cost of this new levee would be $7.6 million, with a total development cost of almost $8.8 million.

4) Construction of Lateral A Improvement would cover 10.64 miles. It would connect in the west to 3.86 miles of existing wall-levee and in the east to an existing wall-levee close to the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge. Known as Prop O-7B on HCDD No. 1’s official documents, it would cost $116.3 million to construct, with a total development cost of $134.5 million.

5) Construction of another part of the Donna-Brownsville Levee System, next to the to the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge, would cover 0.81 miles. Known as Prop O-7C on HCDD No. 1’s official documents, it would connect to an existing 3.25 miles of existing wall-levee south of Donna. It would cost an estimated to $10 million to construct, with a total development cost of $11.5 million.

6) Construction of another part of the Donna-Brownsville Levee System, south of Weslaco, would cover 1.76 miles. It would connect to an existing 3.25 miles of wall-levee on the west an existing 4.07 miles of wall-levee to the east. This existing wall-levee to the east stops at the Progreso International Bridge. Known as Prop O-8B on HCDD No. 1’s official documents, the new stretch of wall-levee would cost $15.6 million to construct, with a total development cost of $18 million.

7) Construction of another part of the Donna-Brownsville Levee System would cover 4.08 miles. It would connect with 2.43 miles of existing wall-levee that runs east from the Progreso International Bridge. To the west, it would connect to the Cameron County Line. Known as Prop O-10B on HCDD No. 1’s official documents this new wall-levee would cost $36.2 million to construct, with a total development cost of $41.9 million.

Here is Judge Garcia’s letter requesting DHS and Congress fund an additional 30.64 miles of border walls with levees in Hidalgo County:

Hon. Congressman McCaul
Chairman of Homeland Security
Attn. John F. Kelly
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C., 20528

Re: Continued Partnership for Protecting the U.S./Mexico Border – Border Levee Strengthening & Security Infrastructure Project
DHS – CBP-08-112-001 (Including Amendments A001-A004)

On behalf of the citizens of Hidalgo County, I want to express our gratitude to the Federal Government, more specifically the Department of Homeland Security, for the work done to date under the joint grant agreement titled “Hidalgo County Border Infrastructure Improvement Program” dated 05/02/2008.

To date, the “Border Levee Strengthening & Security Infrastructure Project”, that resulted from the above referenced program, has served a dual purpose in providing over 20 miles of much needed flood protection against waters from the Rio Grande River, while at the same time providing border security to our great nation as identified on Exhibit A attached.

The original intent was to complete approximately 50 miles of a river protective levee/wall for the entire length of Hidalgo County which is the most populous county along the Texas/Mexico border.

The estimated cost to complete the 50-mile program is projected to be just over $611,567,856.63. This active and open program to date has been awarded a total of $232,640,656.63 of which the local participation by Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 consisted of $58,166,594 and a DHS contribution of $174,474,062.63. This funding was utilized to successfully complete the above referenced 20 miles of the Federal Border Infrastructure Project.

Based on the “Hidalgo County Levee Rehabilitation Project Economic Impact Study” prepared in April 2009 by the University of Texas Pan American, it was determined this $232,640,653 expenditure created a stimulus of over $317,000,000 of economic impact to the area, and created over 3,000 jobs. This was a tremendous boost to the economy of Hidalgo County in 2008 and 2009 when the rest of Texas and the Country experienced a severe economic downturn.

Using a similar method of analysis, it is projected that Phase II would create over $500,000,000 of economic impact and over 5,000 new jobs. Needless to say, this would be a tremendous economic stimulus and jobs program for Hidalgo County and the Nation.

In order to complete this program, the partnership between Hidalgo County Drainage District No.1 and DHS needs to be continued via the preparation and approval of Amendment #5 to the previously referenced Grant Agreement.

Amendment #5 needs to increase the total federal share from $174,474,062.63 to $553,401,262.63 for a net increase of $378,927,200. With the approval of Amendment #5, the continued partnership between DHS and Hidalgo County would result in an approximate 90/10 cost sharing breakdown for the $611,567,856.63 program.

As I am sure you would agree, securing our borders is the responsibility of the Federal Government, however, due to the importance of protecting our borders for illegal immigration, as well as from flood waters from the Rio Grande River, we feel that the continued partnership is essential to protecting the State of Texas, as well as the United States.

Sincerely,

Hon. Ramon Garcia
Chairman of the Board

Copies of the letter were sent to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, speaker of the House, U.S. Rep. Paul Brady, chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the majority whip, U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the majority leader, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Hidalgo County Commissioners, U.S. International Boundary & Water Commission Commissioner Edward Drusina, and Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 General Manager Raul E. Sesin.