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|Bond Commission okays credit for local projects|
The Louisiana Bond Commission late last week approved a $1 million cash line of credit for the Kansas Lane Connector project in Monroe.
This funding, along with a $150,000 from the city of Monroe, will be used to match federal funding for the project.
Roughly $10.5 million in federal funding has already been secured for the connector, but the city needed local and state funding to draw down those federal dollars. The Kansas Lane connector project is estimated to cost more than $26 million.
The city of Monroe met heavy opposition last year from opponents of the Kansas Lane connector. Opponents of the project said it would disrupt life of residents living in the area. They also said the connector was not needed.
Former Sen. Charles Jones was one of the most vocal opponents of the five-lane expressway. He said residents living in the Cypress Point area do not want the expressway passing through their neighborhood.
Proponents of the connector say it would provide needed traffic relief along U.S. Highway 165, and they say it also would help spur economic development.
When complete, the Kansas Lane Connector will link Highway 165 at the Forsythe Extension with Interstate 20 via Kansas Lane.
The project was given the green light in the spring of 2005 when the U.S. Department of Transportation issued the Record of Decision, which marked the formal approval and acceptance of the environmental impact statement and allowed the project to continue.
Since that time, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has been working on design, surveying and right-of-way acquisition.
The Bond Commission also approved $7 million for the Sparta Water Reuse Project in West Monroe.
Gov. Bobby Jindal last fall announced his commitment of the $7 million in state capital outlay funding for the Sparta Aquifer rehabilitation project. This money represents the first of three installments in state funding to help rehabilitate the Sparta Aquifer.
Numerous studies have been conducted to show that if the Sparta issue is not addressed soon, northeast Louisiana residents would see water wells dry up and the region would eventually lose an important asset in the aquifer.
West Monroe officials believe the project to remove Graphic Packaging from the Sparta Aquifer will cost about $20 million. At one time, though, it was believed the project would cost as much as $200 million.
Funding for the project will first be used to construct a wastewater treatment facility near Lazarre Park in West Monroe.
Water treated by that facility will be pumped into Graphic Packaging's plant in West Monroe. Graphic would use the treated water to help mitigate the 10 million gallons per day the plant currently draws from the Sparta.
John Stamberg, vice president of Energy Ventures Analysis of Arlington, Va., has said taking Graphic Packaging off the Sparta would eliminate about 60 percent of the burden on the aquifer throughout the 14-parish region. Energy Ventures Analysis is overseeing the project for the city of West Monroe.