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|OPPJ designates capital outlay requests|
A project to connect La. 34 to U.S. 165 to provide a route to connect to a proposed south Ouachita River bridge will be one of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury's top capital outlay requests for fiscal year 2009-2010.
During Monday's regular police jury meeting, jurors approved four projects to be submitted to the state for possible funding through its capital outlay budget.
Other projects include funding for an east Ouachita industrial park, Interstate 20 frontage road in western Ouachita Parish and an east Ouachita comprehensive sewerage plan.
Parish engineer Don Harrison said he has not determined the amount the police jury will ask for each project.
Requests must be submitted to the state by Nov. 1.
Harrison said over the next week he will determine the amount for each project, and finalize the requests.
He said the La. 34-U.S. 165 connector project is similar to the north loop project, which called for the construction of a corridor to link La. 143 in western Ouachita Parish to U.S. 165 in north Monroe.
"This is a segment on the south loop that would link up Highway 34 on the west side to U.S. 165 around the Buckhorn Bend area," Harrison said. "With that, it would provide another bridge across the river."
"The project on the north side (La. 143-U.S. 165 connector) seems to be stalling out because of the cost," Harrison explained. "We think it's time to look at a crossing on the south side. From previous studies, that seems to be much more cost effective and affordable."
"We're not sure what's going to happen (with the north connector project) but in the meantime, we need to be looking to other needs in the parish, which would include that bridge on the south side," Harrison added.
A study conducted in 1995 indicated the La. 34-U.S. 165 connector would cost roughly $37 million.
"That's well less than half of the estimated cost on the north side," Harrison said. "It was estimated to cost about $244 million for that one project (La. 143-U.S. 165 connector)."
"In our mind, that's just not very feasible to pursue, so we're bringing in the other alternative … if we can't get one on the north side, and we can't get an urban bridge in town, we're looking to move to the south side," he said.
Regarding the proposed east Ouachita industrial park, Harrison said the police jury is currently making a list of individual property owners in the Buckhorn Bend area who would need to be contacted concerning land acquisition.
"We need to pin down the property that's involved in that area," he said. "The total area that we're targeting has about 752 acres. It would seem to me that we would need to step into acquisition arrangements for the overall area."
Last year, the parish submitted a $4 million request for capital outlay funding to begin the acquisition process.
"Verbally, we're hearing that the state is looking for a match (from the parish) but we don't have any way at this point to put up a match," Harrison said. "At this point, I really don't know where to look to get the local match from."
Police juror Mack Calhoun suggested the police jury ask its local legislative delegation for support in securing 100 percent funding from a capital outlay grant.
Harrison agreed, saying, "At this point, since we can't identify matching funds, we need to at least ask for the project and try to justify to our representatives to support the project on our behalf at 100 percent state funding. We need to continue to pursue it even though we don't have the match."
He said the southeast Ouachita industrial park project is one that is tied to economic development and job creation, which is what the state looks for in deciding whether to fund local projects.