The Winn Parish Police Jury met with parish engineer Henry Shuler in special session Sept. 26 to view priorities on parish road projects to be presented to the Louisiana legislature in hopes of receiving capital outlay funding next year.
This is a process that parishes go through annually, hoping to receive monies from the state’s Capital Outlay program to help maintain and repair some of their roads. The legislature does not provide a lump sum payment to a parish to make repairs at-will. Instead, it acts on a project-by-project basis, examining the nature and costs of each project as drawn up by the engineer, then submitted by the Police Jury.
Not all projects are approved, explained Shuler. Large budget projects, for instance, may stand a better chance of winning funding if broken into smaller phases over several years. Those that are approved may come back as a Priority 1, 2 or 5, depending on how readily available that money will be. And sometimes, as happened on the Old Alexandria Road, funding may come through but when clay soil issues were found that will increase costs way over budget, that work is sidelined.
“So what are you asking us?” Shuler was questioned.
“I need the jurors to tell me which roads are their priorities so that I can begin working on the plans for the jury to submit to the state before the Nov. 1 deadline. I’m the consultant. It’s up to you to tell me what to do. But remember, while there is a lot of money available, the Police Jury still has a minimum of a 25% match to receive it. I do want to tell you that, compared to many other parishes, you have been blessed with the financial assistance you’ve received in recent years.”
Josh McAllister credited that blessing to the work of Winn’s legislators on our behalf. He then observed that although he has several projects within his district that need attention, he’d itemize only one so as to not jeopardize the chances of funding on projects in other jury districts. Other lawmakers followed suit in an effort to minimize the “asking” list while maximizing the hopes of funding for each.
One of the roads that would likely need to be approached in phases is the Gum Springs Road. For its entirety, due to its length and width, Shuler said, “We’re talking millions. That one project could cost as much as everything else on the list.” The fact that there is a federal facility (Winn Correctional) on the road could prove a helpful factor, it was observed.
The engineer worked around the table, questioning each of the lawmakers about roads in their districts, taking notes and developing a list so he can begin working on proposals for Winn to submit before deadline.
Those that will be re-submissions include the Eugene Garrett Road, Aunt Marie Road, Old Alexandria Road, L. Sullivan Road, Frank White Road and Brownville Road. New requests to be submitted include the Blewer Road, Welcome Home Road, Mars Hill Road, Gum Springs Road, Collins Camp Road, Louisiana Avenue and Arkansas Avenue.