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|Mayo outlines city's wish list|
The city of Monroe has a list of two dozen projects, totaling $58 million, which it will submit to the federal government to be funded through the proposed economic stimulus package President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve.
Monroe officials are in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss funding for various projects with the state's congressional delegation. The annual lobbying trip coincides with Washington Mardi Gras.
Mayor Jamie Mayo said the new terminal for the Monroe Regional Airport remains a priority for the city. The $31-million project is also the most expensive one the city included in its list for the proposed economic stimulus package.
Projects that can be included by any governmental agency for the stimulus package must be ready to begin within 120 days from receiving federal funding. Those projects also would have to be completed in no more than two years.
"We are in a very good position to move forward with that project," said Mayo, referring to the airport. "Having the number of funding options that we've put together, we should be able to go out for bid by the end of first quarter of this year."
City officials have remained in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the terminal project at the airport. Mayo said the FAA is pleased so far with the city's efforts.
"We're in good shape," Mayo explained. "They have been over here to visit and they are very much aware of where we are and they're in full support of it."
Mayo is optimistic the new terminal project can be completed by the end of 2010. He originally said he wanted the project completed by 2012.
"I would say anywhere between 2010 and 2012, but we're shooting for 2010, quite frankly," he said.
Another project city officials will discuss with congressional leaders this week is the effort to improve Monroe's wastewater treatment plant.
"We have been soliciting support from our federal delegation to help us in those areas that relate to our wastewater treatment plant, particularly in the areas where we have been cited by EPA and are currently under consent decree," Mayo said.
The city has been working for the past 12 years to address EPA concerns regarding its sewerage system. The city has spent roughly $108 million to address those problems outlined by the EPA's consent decree.
Recently, city leaders were told that the EPA is pleased with Monroe's efforts and could be relieved of the consent decree in the near future. The EPA wants the city to tackle another $17 million in wastewater improvement projects over the next year, which could help the city satisfy the EPA consent decree.
"Per capita, we've probably spent as much as anybody (on improving Monroe's sewerage system)," Mayo said.
The third top priority project is the North 4th Street underpass.
The city would need to have an environmental stage zero study conducted before the project could begin. The underpass project would cost several million to complete, however a firm estimate has not been identified.
Mayo said the underpass is needed at North 4th St. to help with the flow of traffic through Monroe's downtown area.
"Those are the three (projects) that we've had for some time," Mayo continued. "Of course, the other part of it (the trip) is focusing on the stimulus package. We feel good about the fact that we've submitted a number of projects that would advance those projects we're working on in a huge way.
"These are all projects that would be shovel ready in 120 days. We don't know how - once it is approve or if it's approved - funding will flow. We just want to get our fair share of funding."
Some of the projects on Monroe's list include infrastructural improvements at the airport, such as $3 million for a new airport hanger. This would be done for a new business prospect that wants to move into the city, Mayo said.
"They are ready to come to Monroe, we just have to close the deal," he said.
Other projects include $1.7 million to increase parking access in downtown Monroe; $5.2 million for Air Industrial Park service roads; $2.5 million for the Interstate 20 frontage road at Millhaven Road; and $2.1 million for right-of-way acquisition at Tower Armand.
Mayo is not attending the meeting in Washington this week. However, city council president Robert "Red" Stevens and Councilman Arthur Gilmore will accompany Monroe Chamber of Commerce officials to lobby on the city's behalf.