Monroe Mayor, Chamber of Commerce Heads to D.C. This Week

MONROE -- Local city leaders are joining leaders across the state for an important trip to the East Coast.

Monroe Chamber Of Commerce officials and Monroe mayor Jamie Mayo are among those heading to Washington, D.C. to lobby for federal projects in Monroe.
It's a yearly trip that helps make a lot of what we see in the city, possible.

"We work with the city of Monroe and work with the lobbyists in trying to help the city of Monroe conquer some of their projects," said Tim Green, chairman for the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

City leaders will visit Louisiana delegates -- six representatives and two senators -- and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

"Talking about the projects and if there's anything they can do to help us in the that regard," said Green.

They'll give an update on what's going on in Northeast Louisiana and share their priorities regarding infrastructure, including several transportation projects.

Officials going on the trip say one of the big projects they'll be addressing in D.C. is the Kansas Lane connector project.

It's meant to create a inter-loop around Monroe, helping to alleviate traffic from Highway 165.

"That's a project that's been on the book for a number of years," said Mayo. "We have 14 to 15 million dollars, the total cost will be about $28 million dollars."

"I'm not sure as far as the congressional delegation if there's anything they can help us with at this point, but within the next few months we hope that project could move forward with purchases, right of ways, and land," said Green.

Other projects include the Kansas Lane-Garret Road Interchange, the Milhaven Road expansion, and a new wastewater treatment system.

"We continue to seek federal funding to help us with the consent decree," said Mayo, regarding the wastewater treatment system.

Green said they have been applying for competitive grants, like the TIGER grant.

"They really want a project to be shovel ready, and as soon as we get to that point, we'll be applying for that particular grant again," he said.

In D.C., they'll also address the farm bill, business, and health care.

"We just try to establish a rapport with our congressional delegation, make sure they know what's going on in NELA and what our priorities are," said Green.

Mayor Mayo says in recent years, the atmosphere in Washington, D.C. has changed. 

"The partisan environment in Washington, D.C., of course, we're going up there trying to get funding for the community of Monroe, Louisiana," he said.

The city used to receive earmarks, a legislative provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects -- but that's been done away with. 

"We can't count on earmarks, so we have to count on going straight to the agency, trying to secure funding from the agencies," said Mayo.

And in the past - trips have been successful. The new terminal at Monroe Regional Airport came about from federal funds.

"We'll continue to do everything we can to seek out federal funding for transportation projects, that will enhance our community and spur economic development, and that's what its all about," said Mayo.

"We're positive and hopefully some good will come from it," said Green.

Leaders from Dow Chemical, St. Francis Hospital, and Progressive Bank will also be joining city leaders on the trip to D.C.

The group will return to Monroe this Friday.

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