Smooth Road? Railroad Avenue renovated, rumors of lawsuit linger

Paving the way
Leo Hernandez stands on his (almost) finished product: Railroad Avenue.
(Photo by David Lopez)

Special to the NEWS

After months of outreach and organizing, the residents of Railroad Avenue, by way independent local efforts, finally have a renovated and leveled road to drive through. However, rumors of a potential lawsuit in response to said efforts have generated against the individual who committed the service.

Where there were once large dips, unpredictable potholes, and sporadic pieces of unleveled road, there now lies a smooth, drivable road in which not only residents can easily maneuver through but so can city services, such as mail, trash, and emergency vehicles.

The individual responsible, Leo Hernandez, from Harlingen, donated his time, equipment, and resources to help fix the road after the NEWS and local media reported its conditions. Hauling truck loads of caliche, cement, and asphalt to Railroad Avenue, Hernandez used his backhoe to disperse and smear the materials down the half mile road, leaving a smoother, darker finish.

Hernandez completed most of the road by Friday, Oct. 11, but earlier this week, he said that Mayor Ben Gomez informed him during a phone call that Union Pacific was inquiring information on the individual that worked on the road so that they may pursue a lawsuit against him.

Hernandez, unphased, said if this was true he would go to court. However, the NEWS contacted Gomez via phone call for verification, but he declined to comment, wishing not speak on behalf of Union Pacific. The mayor did confirm that City Manager Manuel De La Rosa “…did receive something” from Union Pacific. When asked what specifically Union Pacific was requesting, what De La Rosa received, or if mention of a potential lawsuit was afoot, Gomez denied further comment.

Because of the threat of a potential lawsuit, Hernandez said he has not returned to finish the tail end of Railroad Avenue, which harbors about three or four more households, but would gladly do so anyway. Apart from that, his backhoe, due to the excessive work on the road, suffered a malfunction, which only adds to the waiting period.

Jesse Robles, expressing his gratitude, began a GoFundMe campaign (an online fundraiser) for Hernandez with a donation goal of $3,000 to repay his donated time and resources, as well as for his backhoe fixture.

“After years of traveling up and down the dreadful Railroad Avenue, and after nearly a year of residents shifting gears on attacking this issue, residents now have a pleasant road to travel to and from their homes,” posted Robles on his Facebook page. “On behalf of the residents of Railroad Avenue, we’d like to ask all to learn about Leo of Harlingen and the kind gesture he did for several San Benito residents.”

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy at one of our various newspaper racks.

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