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County, state and federal officials gathered on Friday, October 6, to break ground on a historic project for a regional solution to flooding in Hidalgo County.“Today’s historic groundbreaking has been a journey through several decades of what has been a hope, dream and need that has regional significance throughout the Rio Grande Valley,” said Hidalgo County Precinct 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios, who hosted the event.About 400 residents, project partners and dignitaries attended the groundbreaking for Phase 1 of the project at FM 2812, just east of Seminary Road in Edinburg. Speakers included Congressman Vicente Gonzalez; State Senators Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio Jr.; State Representatives Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra; Texas Water Development Board Chairman Bech Brunn, and others.Drainage is the number one priority for Hidalgo County’s Commissioners Court and Drainage District #1 Board of Directors. The Raymondville Drain will create a second outfall from Hidalgo County to the Gulf of Mexico, creating tremendous flood relief for the entire county. The project, once constructed, will offer stormwater management by providing a new channel that connects to existing channels from Edinburg Lake (in Hidalgo County) to the Laguna Madre (in Willacy County).Phase 1 of the project is expected to take 18 months to complete. Meantime, once funding becomes available, work will also begin on Phase 2, said Palacios.“We are committed to continue working comprehensively on all types of drainage infrastructure that will preserve life, assets and enhance the quality of life for our residents,” Palacios said.Funding for Phase 1 came in the form of a $4.5 million grant from the Texas Water Development Board.“It’s been a long road to get here” said Gonzalez. “We’re on the right track to providing our area with much-needed flood control and stormwater management.”Texas Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, who was instrumental in helping the county acquire the grant, feels that this is the perfect time to break ground on a project that will help save lives, property damage and money.“We’ve been working on this project for 30 years; we can’t wait any longer, “said Hinojosa. “We saw the destruction Hurricane Harvey did in Houston and the Coastal Bend area, it’s about time we shifted to the fast lane.”The Raymondville Drain Project will help Hidalgo County protect a million people and over $36 billion dollars in property. Nearly $17.1 million in state and federal grant funds has been earmarked for the Raymondville Drain Project. The grant funds include $10.1 million from the Texas Water Development Board, and $7 million from Texas Restore Act Grants.In addition to the grants, the federal government has committed to reimburse 75 percent of the total cost of the project, removing the majority of the burden from Hidalgo County taxpayers.“This is a historic moment. With the partnership of the Federal Government, and the leadership that we currently have we’re going to be able to not just start, but to get to that finished line,” said Palacios. “This first phase of construction will provide immediate relief to our more urbanized populated county as well as providing relief to subdivisions and colonias in the Eastern part of our county.”