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|Parish to request $72.7 million from proposed stimulus plan|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury compiled a list of projects totaling $72.7 million, which it plans to submit for funding through a $700 billion economic stimulus package President-elect Barack Obama says he will ask Congress to approve.
Police jurors signed off on the list of projects Monday during its regular meeting.
Obama's aides and Democratic lawmakers currently are ironing out the details of the proposed stimulus package that would spend $700 billion over two years, mostly on infrastructure projects.
Parish engineer Don Harrison created the list of projects for the police jury to consider. After some discussion Monday, jurors agreed to include the project to widen Finks Hideaway Road to that list.
The widening of Finks Hideaway Road is one of the top road projects in Ouachita.
Police juror Walt Caldwell suggested adding the Finks Hideaway Road project to the list. If that project was funded with money from the stimulus package, it would free up funds for the Ouachita Council of Governments to use on other infrastructure needs, Caldwell said.
Work to widen Finks Hideaway Road is expected to begin this year. The first phase of work is projected to cost roughly $8 million.
Police jury president Shane Smiley agreed with including the Finks Hideaway Road project on the list. He serves District E where Finks Hideaway Road is located.
Caldwell added, "If we could get that funding and do all the phases, that would put it to bed, which would be to our benefit."
Regarding the proposed economic stimulus package, Harrison told police jurors there has been "a tremendous amount of discussion with different local governmental agencies and congressional offices for projects that could be listed for that package."
"At this point, all we know is the president-elect's intent is to have some legislation in place by the middle of February that would funnel money to local government to be expended quickly to create jobs and spur the economy," Harrison said.
It is not known if any monies would be funneled to any of Ouachita Parish's local governmental agencies, Harrison said.
However, he said the police jury should prepare for whatever funding might become available.
He said one of the main things the federal government wants from governmental agencies is a list of projects that could be ready for construction within 120 days.
"Until we see what type of projects and criteria they are looking for … all we're doing now is making a list," Harrison said.