U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar announced Wednesday more than $3.5 million in federal funding for the city of Sullivan’s El Faro Road Mitigation Project, which will improve street and drainage infrastructure in one of the city’s most traveled areas.

According to Cuellar, the project is a team effort between the city and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to not only upgrade the second-most traveled street in town, El Faro Road, but to also alleviate areas prone to heavy flooding.

The $4.7 million project will be carried out in two phases. 

“We’re going to be the vehicle for this grant, so we’ll work with the city and their engineers to make sure that the environmental studies, the engineering reports are complete and we do everything the right way,” USDA Area Director Roel Gomez said.

El Faro Road will be widened to incorporate an additional turning lane, and city officials want to include a 1.4 mile hike and bike lane for residents to enjoy.

The upgrades are not just meant to alleviate the troubles residents have faced in years past, but are also being done in hopes of attracting businesses to the city and creating job growth.

Sullivan City, however, still needs additional funds.

“We do need a total of $4.7 million which both entities will help us with,” Sullivan City Mayor Alma Salinas said. “I know that our city has already worked on that, so as soon as we get … what the USDA is asking of us, and we’re in the process of that already, [we’ll] be on it.”

The project is slated to start at the beginning of 2022.

Congressman Henry Cuellar and Mayor Alma Salinas at Sullivan City’s City Hall Conference Room on Wednesday. (Monitor photo)

On the south side of El Faro Road, there are currently street signs that warn of flooding, and the bumpy north side is covered in drainage gratings with only several yards between each other. Meanwhile, a consistent line of 18-wheelers carrying gravel and sediments traveling south have caused issues with the road and drainage system, as noted by Sullivan City’s Mayor Pro-Tem Julian Peña.

Peña saw it firsthand when he helped the city’s clean-up committee unclog the drainage system during Hurricane Hanna. He saw caliche had built up inside the system, which helped stop water flow and caught debris floating along the water.

The crew also found plastic bags, bottles, cans, tires and more and had to use a power hose in order to help unclog the backed up drains.

“I’m going to be honest, in order for people to understand what’s going on here in Sullivan, you have to be here on a daily basis,” Pena said. “You got to be in Sullivan to actually know where the parts more affected are.”

“I thank Congressman Cuellar for that money.”

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