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Tuesday , October 15 2019
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Home | Tag Archives: Presidio

Tag Archives: Presidio

TxDoT Breaks Ground on Reconstruction of Presidio-Ojinaga Rail Bridge

PRESIDIO – The Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Pacifico Transportation, LTD. (TXPF) held a groundbreaking event Monday for the reconstruction of the international rail bridge at Presidio, Texas.

The rail bridge was severely damaged by fires in 2008 and 2009 and is located on the TxDOT-owned South Orient rail line, a 391-mile rail line running from the Texas-Mexico border at Presidio through San Angelo to just south of Coleman.

The South Orient is leased to TXPF, a private railroad company that operates the line and is responsible for the reconstruction of the bridge. TXPF is funding the reconstruction of the bridge, which is scheduled to be completed by September 2019.

“As one of the eight rail gateways between the United States and Mexico, this crossing is extremely important to the economy of Texas and the rest of the United States,” said Texas Transportation Commission Chairman, J. Bruce Bugg, Jr. “Today’s groundbreaking is a testament to what strong partnerships can accomplish in creating transportation solutions. This project will have positive impacts on both the regional and national levels in support of our energy sector and local communities.”

TxDOT has also received a $7 million federal FASTLANE grant to rehabilitate 72 miles of track and additional bridges in Presidio County.  This additional work will improve safety and train operations in support of the reconstruction of the Presidio Ojinaga international rail bridge.

“Cross-border trade is the lifeblood of many communities in my district, including Presidio. Restoring this crucial freight connection will create jobs, reduce arduous border wait times, and facilitate the flow of goods and services through the region. As one of five border crossings between Texas and Mexico, and one of only eight in the nation, these repairs are vital to Texas’ economy,” said U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, who represents over 800 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. “I am proud to have helped TxDOT and Presidio secure federal grant funding to rebuild the Presidio-Ojinaga International Railroad and am thankful that TxDOT is working to restore it to a safe and efficient connector that delivers goods throughout our state.”

“This project is a perfect example of Texas, the United States Government, the Mexican Government and private industry working together to promote international trade and will be of great benefit to House District 74,” said Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevarez. “I look forward to continuing to work with our state, federal and international partners on such projects in the future.”

TxDOT expects to bid the track and other bridge work in the spring of 2019.

The Presidio Rail Bridge reconstruction is Presidio’s second major transportation project to move forward in recent months. The $10 million Presidio-Ojinaga International Bridge construction project for the highway bridge started earlier this year and is estimated to be completed in summer 2019.

Miners Build Rainwater Harvesting System in Colonia

Desire, destiny and determination were part of a recent effort by University of Texas at El Paso students who designed and constructed a demonstration rainwater harvesting system for an elderly couple who live in a colonia outside of Presidio, Texas.

Eight UTEP students, mostly from the College of Engineering, under the supervision of the University’s Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM), made the four-hour trek to Las Pampas to install the system that was built to collect 2,200 gallons of water.

Residents of this colonia – a community along the U.S.-Mexico border that lacks basic infrastructure, such as paved roads and connections to municipal utilities – are not hooked up to the Presidio water service. They must haul in water up to several times per week for indoor and outdoor use.

The UTEP team hoped this effort, called the Water Matters project, would show other Las Pampas residents how they could cut back on the cost, time and effort tied to hauling water.

The students worked for about 12 hours to drill, cut and assemble the system’s PVC pipes and gutters that ultimately connected to eight 275-gallon black plastic tanks.

“The students learned a lot, and that’s an important part of education,” said Bill Hargrove, Ph.D., CERM director and the driving force behind the project.”They learned technical aspects, but maybe even more important was that they learned some soft skills such as how to work together and how to get organized. These are skills that professionals, especially engineers, use every day.”

Some rain showers in May and early June tested the system and the homeowners reported that it worked fairly well. There was some minor leakage at a joint, but the homeowner was able to repair it. An estimated 370 gallons of rainwater was collected from the collective storms despite the leak.

The project’s story really began during the summer of 2015 when CERM started a grant-funded water assessment survey for Presidio, a rural community about 250 miles southeast of El Paso. The study, which included Las Pampas, was led by Hargrove and lasted about 18 months. After he submitted the report to state and city officials, residents, who had developed close ties with his team, asked him if they would be getting water service.

The CERM director began to think about low-cost options to help the Las Pampas residents. A colleague’s mention of rainwater harvesting got him thinking about that as a possible solution. He took the idea to Jesus M. Placencia, an engineer in training and CERM graduate research assistant who studied the topic as a graduate student in 2016. The UTEP alumnus earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2015, and is expected to complete his master’s in civil and environmental engineering in fall 2017.

Placencia designed a system that took advantage of the home’s sloped 2,252-square-foot metal roof. He considered the area’s highest monthly rainfall in July and August of about two inches per month. The numbers cruncher figured the system should harvest 2,200 gallons that could be used to irrigate the property’s 26 trees and assorted bushes and plants.

CERM had a plan and had allocated $1,000 for supplies, but it needed more help and it was about to get plenty of it.

El Paso-based Coca-Cola Enterprises contacted CERM to see if it wanted 15 275-gallon jugs that are used to carry the soda’s syrup. Similar tanks cost about $600 each.

Owners of a Las Pampas trucking company, who got to know Hargrove during the CERM community water survey, offered to transport the tanks for a nominal fee.

Miguel Fraga, a senior engineering leadership major who leads a student group that wants to put its knowledge and expertise to use in the community, asked Hargrove if CERM had a project it could support.

“Everyone did a pretty good job,” said Fraga, who added that this was the first time some of them had used power tools. “We’re thankful to CERM. Everyone is looking forward to the next project.”

Among those who were impressed by the project was Presidio Mayor John Ferguson, who stopped by the job site. He has known Hargrove for several years because of CERM’s water research. He said the project inspired him to propose a grant to his city council that would pay for the extension of city water service to the colonia.

“(Rainwater harvesting) was a tremendous idea,” Ferguson said. He thought it was a positive step that could alleviate some of the problem. He also lauded the students for their determination.

Hargrove said there are tentative plans to return to Las Pampas during the fall 2017 semester to assemble a similar system on a larger colonia property.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

Grant allows TTUHSC, GGHSON to Provide Health Education to West Texas’ Communities

The Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) has received a $430,780 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide long-distance health education to underserved communities in rural West Texas.

TTUHSC El Paso is the only institution in the state to receive one of the USDA’s 45 distance learning grants.

“I grew up in a small town and I understand what rurality is,” says Associate Professor and Assistant Dean Penny Cooper, D.N.P., R.N., the primary investigator who is leading the project. “Rurality impacts poverty and knowledge base, and ultimately, health.”

The grant will fund free health education services via interactive, live video conferencing for 10 West Texas communities. The target communities include Hudspeth, Presidio, Yoakum and El Paso counties, all of which have been labeled StrikeForce counties by the USDA — rural U.S. counties plagued by persistently high poverty rates.

Forty-three percent of individuals living in Hudspeth and 21 percent of individuals living in Presidio live below the U.S. poverty line. In addition to staggering poverty rates, these communities face low levels of educational advancement. Only 2.6 percent of Hudspeth’s residents and 10.9 percent of Presidio’s hold a bachelor’s degree.

The GGHSON has already developed relationships with school districts in the 10 communities. While the program focuses primarily on elementary through high school students, education courses may be extended to the broader community, including parents and senior citizens. The project’s first step will be to determine the unique health education needs of each site.

“Each site will decide its own needs because they are the ones that know their region best,” Cooper explains. “Whether they need education on street safety, oral health, nutrition, obesity, exercise, chronic disease — we’ll be there to collaborate with them.”

In partnership with University Medical Center of El Paso (UMC), the GGHSON will also provide Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) courses to nurses in rural hospitals and medical centers. Practicing nurses are required to take 20 hours of CNE courses every two years; however, this requirement may be challenging to meet in rural settings.

“Some forms of CNE may not be offered in rural areas, so nurses have to travel to attend them — creating unwanted travel expenses and work absences, and draining facilities that already run on limited nursing staff,” says Professor and Associate Dean Wm. Michael Scott, D.N.P., R.N., FAANP, co-investigator of the project. To help ease this strain, CNE courses will be live streamed from UMC to Pecos County Memorial Hospital and Permian Regional Medical Center.

The GGHSON team hopes the two-year health education project will ultimately improve the health of West Texas’ rural communities. The team also hopes to inspire young students to consider careers in health care.

“The job potentials for many of these communities are limited to prison guards, farmers and border patrol agents,” Cooper says. “We want to inspire younger generations to think outside the box and realize there are other possibilities — like nursing, medicine and dentistry.”

Additional partners on the project include Cisco SystemsSynetra and Netsync Network Solutions, which will assist with technology setup and implementation. The GGHSON project has been endorsed by U.S. Reps. Will Hurd and Beto O’Rourke and Texas Sen. José Rodríguez, as well as community agencies such as the Texas E-Health Alliance and the Workforce Solutions Borderplex.Distance Learning Site Locations (1)

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