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|Police jurors refer sidewalks, lighting proposal to city|
A proposal to add new sidewalks and install lights along heavily traveled areas in southern Monroe could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions of dollars.
That's according to parish engineer Don Harrison, who gave the Ouachita Parish Police Jury an update Monday on the proposed south Monroe sidewalks and lighting project. Harrison delivered his report at the police jury's regular meeting.
Local contractor and developer Robert Rowan first approached parish officials about the project several weeks earlier at a police jury meeting.
The proposal calls for improving sidewalks and installing lights beginning at Parkview Drive at Wossman High School and ending at Richwood Road No. 1 near Richwood High School. It would involve 3.4 miles of improvements.
Included in this area are 13 schools in the Ouachita Parish and Monroe City school systems.
Rowan describes the area as an "educational mecca in desperate need of improvements."
Project costs have not been determined but "it could run anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars," Harrison said.
"It's going to be an expensive project to do it right," he said.
Besides the improvement efforts, there exist many ditches in the area that would need to be filled to make the project work.
"Typically to put sidewalks and lights and establish a safe pedestrian walkway for children and other citizens, generally that would involve enclosing those ditches," Harrison said. "His (Rowan's) interest was to enclose the ditches where necessary, construct sidewalks and lighting and do it in a phased project, starting at Wossman and moving south."
Harrison said Rowan is looking for a governmental agency to sponsor the project, push it forward and work to obtain grants for funding. The police jury and city of Monroe could embrace project since the project falls within both city limits and parish boundaries.
"Depending on the type of grants, you could have some participation from the school boards and possibly DOTD depending on the program you pursue," Harrison said, referring to Ouachita Parish and Monroe city school systems as well as the state Department of Transportation and Development.
"But either the city of Monroe or the police jury would have to serve as a local project sponsor," he said.
Harrison said there are several funding opportunities available, but the best bet would be the transportation enhancement program through the Department of Transportation and Development.
"Basically this program has transportation dollars set aside for those types of projects," Harrison said. "The city is pursuing a similar project to improve Louisville Avenue and eliminate some of the utility congestion and create sidewalks … that's they type of project that lends itself to that program," he said.
To participate in the program, the city or parish would need an overall pedestrian walkway plan that would need to be adopted by the city or parish and endorsed by the Ouachita Council of Governments.
"With that overall plan in place, you could break out projects or attempt to fund different portions of an overall plan," Harrison said. "The city of Monroe already has a plan like we're talking about that should include a project such as this, if it doesn't already."
Harrison said the city of Monroe is in a better position to serve as a local sponsor for the project since the city already has a similar plan in place.
"The police jury could put together its own plan and pursue it that way, too," Harrison said.
Police juror Pat Moore suggested Rowan meet with Monroe officials first to discuss the project.
"Right now, maybe the initiative should be from the city of Monroe," Moore said.
Police juror Dorth Blade also said Monroe has four city schools and a recreation district that could benefit from his proposal.