The Ouachita Parish Police Jury is in the process of completing some $4.9 million in new road projects with another $16.2 million in road projects in design.
The Police Jury received an update on its public infrastructure projects during its June 7 meeting.
“The Police Jury has done in the last four or five years more projects than it has in the past 12 to 15 years,” said Kevin Crosby, the parish consulting engineer.
Those recent projects included improvements to Holland Drive ($760,000), the Pinecrest intersection ($89,000), Cedarbrook Roadway ($120,000), the East Town and Country levee ($445,000), the River Styx and Chauvin Pump station roof ($28,000), the Ouachita Parish Fire Department’s facility ($246,000), and Hadley Street ($838,000).
Currently, the Police Jury has nine projects in construction including improvements to Crystal Drive, Garrett Road, Harrell Road, Tanglewood Drive, Richwood Road No. 2, and Moon Lake Road among others.
Projects in design include Rowland Road, Wall Williams Road, Lonewa Road, Beulah Church Road, Collie Road, Raccoon Bayou and the outfall at the River Styx Pump Station.
Police jurors discussed the project list prior to considering a pair of resolutions that would likely result in lower infrastructure improvement costs each year.
The first resolution changed the designation of several streets from “improved,” or “hard-surfaced,” to “unimproved,” or “gravel roads.”
The roads changed under the resolution included portions of the following roadways: Boley Ammons Road, Dan Lenard Road, Joe Holton Road, Lillie Hill Road, Mt. Olive Church Road, Smith Brothers Road, Moon Lake Road, Coco Bend Road, Dayton Tidwell Road, Frost Road, Mansfield Road, and White Oak Drive.
According to parish officials, those roads have deteriorated and developed base failures. The cost to repair those roads has become cost prohibitive because of their length, lack of average daily traffic count among other factors, parish officials said.
The roads will be maintained with crushed stone and undergo periodic grading.
The second instrument introduced by the Police Jury dealing with roads was an ordinance revoking certain parish roads as public roadways. Many of the roads revoked have not been regularly maintained or have been gated by landowners or serve no structures, according to parish officials.
Under the proposed ordinance, portions of the following roads could be revoked: Rayner Road, L.E Sims Road, Travis Street, Courtney Caples Road, John Turner Road Extension, Mann Road, Pump Station Road, King Street, Turn Road, Fiddler Road, McHenry Gin Road, Ragland Road Extension, Brockner Road, Samuel Toney Drive, Peters Lane, McClure Road, John Lane, Armond Miller Road, Joe Deats Road and Pipes Lane.
The ordinance will be up for final adoption after a public hearing on July 19.
On another front, the Police Jury considered a request for drainage help from a resident of the Northgate Subdivision in Monroe.
Willie Armstrong told police jurors the drainage ditch near his property had filled with dirt, meaning water floated across the roadway during hard rains.
“The water literally comes up to my back door,” Armstrong said.
John Tom Murray, the parish public works director, offered to place beaver traps and look for beavers whose dams could be impeding the flow of water.
“Yeah, that’s not the issue here,” Armstrong said. “When the water attempts to go back there, it fills up instantly when there’s a hard rain. It puddles in the street.”
Murray said he could not disagree with Armstrong, though he noted there was a “problem with beavers” in Armstrong’s neighborhood. Murray pointed out the Police Jury does not have any source of funding to pay for off-road drainage.
In other business, the Police Jury selected The Ouachita Citizen as its Official Journal for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Police jurors also agreed to select The Monroe Dispatch as its supplementary Official Journal.
Police juror Lonnie Hudson offered the motion to select the Official Journal and Police Jury Vice President Jack Clampit seconded the motion. The vote was unanimous.
Meanwhile, the Police Jury recognized several employees for their years of service for the parish including Stacey Jackson for 25 years of service at the Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center in Monroe as well as Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter Director Stephanie Mullins for five years of service.
“On behalf of the Police Jury, we appreciate your service to us and our constituents in the parish,” said Police Jury President Shane Smiley.