INDIAN HILLS, RGV – Hidalgo County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar classified the roads in Indian Hills East as the worst in Precinct 1.
The streets were so badly torn up that school buses would not enter the 600-family colonia, which lies five miles north of Mercedes. There was also concern from residents that UT-Rio Grande Valley’s new mobile health clinic would not be able to negotiate the deep potholes.
Now, however, with the help of FEMA and the county, Cuellar has found the money – $1.25 million – to fix the 11 streets in the colonia.
“I am very excited and happy for the residents of Indian Hills East. I made sure when FEMA paid a visit to Precinct 1 that they take a closer look at the damaged roads Indian Hills East sustained as a result of the heavy rains in October of 2015, Cuellar told the Rio Grande Guardian.
“I have Indian Hills East classified as having the worst road conditions here in Precinct 1, and since its development in 1984 no major improvements had been made, so to see this finally getting done really is a big accomplishment for my precinct.”
Cuellar said FEMA and the County of Hidalgo will join together to fund the project. The total project cost is $1,255,364.69, with Hidalgo County responsible for 25 percent of the cost.
Cuellar said the repair work should be done by May, 2017. Residents say they can wait another year. After all, they have been waiting for the past decade,
Lourdes Salinas, a community organizer with Proyecto Azteca has lived in Indian Hills East for 25 years. She said over the years two community groups were formed to secure improvements to the streets. Now, working with Proyecto Azteca, a breakthrough has been made, she said.
“They sent money down before but one of the previous commissioners did not use it correctly. So, we organized again with Proyecto Azteca and finally, thank God, they have approved (the resolution) that they will use the money to fix the streets,” Salinas told the Rio Grande Guardian.
“The community is very happy. Finally, they have heard our voices. The residents do not believe it until they see it but they are very happy. They have seen it on the news that it has been approved. We want them to do a good job because we really need it.”
Salinas said Proyecto Azteca has about 20 houses in Indian Hills East. She said that sometimes, the Proyecto Azteca trucks could not negotiate the streets to bring the pre-built homes into the colonia.
“The school buses cannot get in. The bus drivers do not want to come all the way to the back of the colonia. If they do, the kids hurt their heads as the bus bounces up and down. They were planning for the bus only to get to the store at the entrance to the colonia but the families did not want to walk their children down to the store when it rains,” Salinas said.
The issue has frustrated many residents, who claim that the poor state of the streets has caused great were and tear on their cars. Jesse Delgado, a resident of Indian Hills East and a UTRGV promotora in the community, believes that UTRGV’s new mobile clinic will have difficulty getting into the colonia because of the potholes.
“I have been living here for 17 years and pretty much I have to change my tires every two years. The bottom of the car is astounding, it’s just horrible and we have to deal with it every day. That’s our only way in and out,” Delgado told the Rio Grande Guardian.
Delgado said he hopes fixing the potholes is not a two-edged sword. “We want the roads fixed. But, we do not want cars racing through the neighborhood and causing accidents.”
Speaking in English, Veronica Diaz, a resident of Indian Hills East said: “We are just waiting for the day to come so they’ll fix our streets. We are happy that there are helping us fix our streets and we are pleased that they have payed attention to our colonias.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story shows Proyecto Azteca community organizer Lourdes Salinas and Indian Hills East resident Veronica Diaz. The photos were taken by Rio Grande Guardian reporter Steve Taylor.