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|Airport money focus of D.C. excursion|
Efforts to secure additional funding for the construction of a new terminal at Monroe Regional Airport and other infrastructure concerns in the area will be the focus of a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C., in early June.
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo and other city officials will join representatives from Greater Ouachita Port for the three-day excursion beginning Wednesday, June 11.
Members of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and officials from the University of Louisiana-Monroe also will join the 10-person delegation.
Mayo has his sights set on landing the federal funding necessary to complete the construction of a more than $30-million terminal at the Monroe airport. The terminal project has been a focus among city officials for years. Mayo hopes to have the new terminal built by 2010.
Mayo said Tuesday that he hopes the city can secure at least $7 million for the airport terminal.
"If we get that, that would be huge for us," Mayo said. "You are always thrilled if you are able to get the amount that you requested, but that's not always the case."
He said it helps that U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu serves on the Appropriations Committee, and Congressman Rodney Alexander sits on the Appropriations Committee in the House.
"Those are two strong and key position holders, and we're optimistic that they will be able to help us secure the funds," Mayo said. "I've expressed to our delegation how important it is to get as much as we can for the terminal."
"A commitment has been given to me that they will do what they can to help," Mayo added.
The city in 2007 selected a South Carolina transportation consulting firm to design a new airport terminal, which would replace the 40-year-old existing terminal.
Several economic studies conducted in the past few years have indicated that economic growth in the region will depend on an improved airport.
Once in Washington, the local group will first meet with the city's and chamber's lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, to discuss funding and infrastructure concerns with the state's congressional delegation, Mayo said.
"The bottom line is to keep these projects on their mind," Mayo continued. "That's why we go twice a year. It's usually a pretty good trip because we are a single delegation that lobbies for each other, and usually it's pretty organized, and we think very effective."
ULM hopes to secure funds for a research vivarium and a mobile dental hygiene unit to serve rural areas of northeast Louisiana.
Other projects include improvements to the city's wastewater treatment system, the Interstate 20/Garrett Road interchange projects, funds to expand the port and funding for the 4th Street underpass in Monroe.
Meanwhile, port officials are hunting federal funding to help pay for expanding the port's facilities at its West Monroe location.