The Interstate 20 Economic Development Corp.’s governing board recently agreed to extend Fontana Road to a service road north of I-20 in eastern Ouachita to benefit the expansion of a local tractor dealer.

Jeremy Gantt, of Ruston, a Kubota dealer selling tractors and other heavy equipment, asked the I-20 board in December to consider modifying their project extending Fontana Road to accommodate his plans to build a $15-million store.

The new Kubota dealership would be built near I-20, roughly south of FedEx Freight, according to Gantt.

“It’s a nine-month process for us to build the building, in the best case scenario,” Gantt told the I-20 board in December.

The I-20 board has since voted to improve Fontana Road and connect the road’s southeastern corner to the I-20 north frontage road south of Louisiana Delta Community College. The project could cost some $2 million.

As an economic development district, the I-20 board generates revenues through a portion of the state sales taxes from retail in the Pecanland Mall area. The I-20 board uses those revenues to provide road, water and sewer infrastructure to attract new businesses or help local businesses expand.

On Tuesday, I-20 board president Charles Pritchard said the board had some drainage questions and other concerns to address before proceeding.

“It’s a matter of getting the road straightened out,” he said.

The I-20 board met Tuesday to hear an update on its projects and discuss right-of-way negotiations and other matters. For example, construction of a south frontage road from Nutland Road to Lowe’s Home Improvement has stalled in the clearing and grubbing phase because of standing water and wet conditions preventing the use of heavy equipment.

I-20 board member Doug Harvey asked whether Kubota required any action from the board to enable their expansion to proceed.

“Does he have what he needs from us?” said Harvey, who also is a member of the Monroe City Council.

Kevin Crosby, who serves as the parish’s consulting engineer, confirmed the I-20 board was waiting to hear from Gantt about the exact site of his proposed store. The I-20 board’s plans to extend Fontana Road include providing parking lot access to the proposed Kubota store.

Meanwhile, Pritchard informed the I-20 board that I-20 board member Johnny Bryant had tendered his resignation from the board.

“Thank you for your service, I hate to see you leave,” Pritchard said.

Bryant thanked Pritchard, Mayor Friday Ellis and other board members.

“I appreciate you,” he said.

Harvey, in his capacity as a Monroe City Council member, is expected to appoint a new member to the I-20 board.

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