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|Parish wish list tops $100 million|
The Ouachita Parish Police Jury's list of projects it would like to see funded through an economic stimulus package currently under consideration in Congress now totals $101.2 million.
Last month, the police jury agreed on a list of projects totaling $72.7 million. The list was crafted for consideration for funding in light of President Barack Obama's call for Congress to pass an $800 billion-$900 billion stimulus package. The additional projects the police jury added to the list Monday at its regular meeting were recommended by parish engineer Don Harrison.
Harrison said the parish should submit as many projects as possible since it is not known which projects would qualify for funding through the economic stimulus package.
"Many of the projects on this list might not qualify, which is why we need to have a large list," Harrison said. "This covers a very extensive array of upgrading our parish road system, plus addressing some of our major transportation needs."
"We don't expect to receive funding for most of it, but these are all projects that could be considered once the stimulus package criteria is established," Harrison explained. "We expect some changes, but in the meantime, some of the portions of the bill seem to be solidifying. So we are communicating with state agencies that will accommodate any federal funding that will come out of the package. We are working now on some of the highway funds anticipated to come to Louisiana, which will then be directed back to the metropolitan planning organizations throughout the state."
It is expected the Monroe/West Monroe area will receive at least $7 million in highway funding thanks to the stimulus package, which was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The legislation authorizing the stimulus package is awaiting action by the U.S. Senate.
The cities of Monroe and West Monroe also will submit lists for funding through the economic stimulus package, Harrison said.
After some discussion, police juror Mack Calhoun proposed the police jury pass a resolution requesting that the state's congressional delegation include drainage projects in the stimulus package. Calhoun's motion passed unanimously.
Public works director John Tom Murray said he would "definitely recommend we try and tap some funds for drainage projects."
Calhoun said if the parish could obtain funding for its various drainage projects, the parish could finally knock out its drainage problem.
"Now is the time to do it," Calhoun said. "To me this is a golden opportunity to take care of all the drainage problems in Ouachita Parish."
"We could correct the problems in all areas of the parish," Calhoun continued. "If we lose this opportunity, we may not have another opportunity to correct the (drainage) problems in the parish."
To qualify for funding through the proposed economic stimulus package, Harrison said the federal government was looking for projects that can be ready to have bids in hand by 90 days. The projects also would need to be completed within two years.
"As I appreciate it, those are just screening lists that they will begin working through once the funding criteria is better identified," Harrison said.
Also included on the list of parish projects the police jury submitted for consideration are:
- Public road improvements - $21 million
- Off-Road drainage improvements - $417,379
- Pavement striping improvements - $3.7 million
- Urban system projects (which includes the Finks Hideaway Road project, Vancil Road, Caples Road and Parker Road extension) - $20 million
- Off-System Bridge replacement projects - $5 million
- East Ouachita Sewerage improvements - $7.5 million
- West Ouachita Sewerage improvements - $5.5 million
- Public buildings and facilities - $15.9 million
- Greater Ouachita Port improvements - $10.3 million
- West Ouachita water supply reservoir - $8 million