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|OCOG approves stimulus funding projects|
The Ouachita Council of Governments officially signed off on its proposed stimulus projects to be funded by an economic stimulus program, which Congress approved earlier this year.
OCOG agreed on the list Monday during its regular meeting at Monroe City Hall. The total amount of money local governments will receive for infrastructure improvement projects is $9.6 million.
Of that amount, West Monroe will receive $3.2 million, Monroe will get $3.1 million and the Ouachita Parish Police Jury will receive $3.2 million.
The projects in West Monroe include improvements for Trenton Street, Travis Street, Crosley Street, Wellerman Drive, North 7th Street and Downing Pines Road.
Monroe's projects include Oliver Road, Lamy Lane, Washington Street, Walnut Street, Riverside Drive and North 19th Street.
Projects in the parish include improvements along Good Hope Road, a portion of Dellwood Drive, Louisiana Avenue, Vancil Road and Hadley Street.
All three public entities have identified backup projects that could be tackled if additional money is allocated to OCOG or if any projects approved for funding fall through.
The back-up project in West Monroe is Coleman Street at a cost of $3.7 million.
Monroe has Orange Street and Central Avenue and return loop as backup projects, which total $6.19 million.
The police jury selected a second portion of Dellwood Drive, Green Road, Laird Street, and two segments of Caples Road for its backup projects. Those projects total $7.1 million.
Local governments are expected to have final plans submitted for thee projects by Nov. 30. However, if plans can be completed earlier, bids can be accepted and approved for work to begin by late summer, according to Robbie George, West Monroe's engineer.
February 2010 is the latest that bids could be let for any of the projects funded through the federal stimulus package.
"But that's the worst case scenario," said West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris. "If you are not done by February of next year, then you are done; you're out of the ballgame. If we were to hire a really good engineer and told them we want the plans … this is overlaying (work), it's not as complicated as building things. If we told them we wanted the plans done in 30 days, could we expect sometime in summer to get the thing let and get it done?"
George responded, "I think the end of summer would be our best bet."