Jackson says over millions allocated for Monroe, Northeast Louisiana

Rep. Katrina Jackson, says Monroe and other Northeast Louisiana areas to get millions for improvements in special allocates approved by Governor John Bel Edwards. Those who said our area was left out were misinformed.

Those who doubted local legislators’ ability to get funds for our area, spoke too quickly, that’s the word from Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-16) who says Northeast Louisiana legislators will be getting millions for improvements, not through the recently approved state budget but through other channels.

Northeast Louisiana legislators were being blasted on social media broadcast media because the state approved a budget for $700 million in improvements but excluded Northeast Louisiana.

Jackson, who is head of the Legislative Black Caucus, is reputed to be the most powerful woman in the legislature, but couldn’t get a dime for her district or those of other surrounding areas. When contacted on why Northeast Louisiana was not in the approved budget, she was mum only to say that all members of the delegation knew the plan, that’s why they voted for it.

In essence, help for Northeast Louisiana was coming out of another finance pocket that the governor himself would arrange and announce. Until that time, all of Northeast Louisiana legislators looked impotent, but they knew the plan.

Jackson said the news reports were premature because while they accurately detailed the contents of the approved budget, they did not know about special arrangements made by Governor John Bel Edwards to cover Northeast Louisiana through other channels.

“We could not say anything, but we knew it was coming,” said Jackson.

Monday, the governor announced additional funds for projects in Northeast Louisiana that included funds to complete the Kansas Lane Garrett Road Connector 1-20 interchange improvement project in Monroe.

The governor said the Kansas Lane project “will consist of widening Garrett Road to four lanes from Huntington Drive to LA 594 in Ouachita Parish. Additionally, a new two-lane roadway will be constructed connecting Garrett Road and Kansas Lane as well as a concrete girder bridge for northbound Garrett Road over 1-20, a concrete girder and steel span bridge over LA 594 and KCS Railroad, improvement to LA 594 and the 1-20 ramps at Garrett Road and the construction of five roundabouts. This nearly $55 million improvement project is anticipated to go to bid in the summer 2021.”

Jackson said many members of the legislature who know how funding works understood how Northeast Louisiana would be covered, “I’ve been here a few years, I know how it works.” Those who were not familiar with the process and the various funding channels panicked and published reports that Northeast Louisiana had been excluded before everything was done.

The plan also includes $8 million for bridges in Union, East Carroll, Richland, Madison, and LaSalle Parishes.

Another $80 million has been allocated for projects to rehabilitate the I-20 Mississippi Bridge, a critical route for commerce, the governor said.

Jackson said the Northeast Louisiana delegation worked with the governor to get funding for this area of the state; it didn’t matter which pocket of funds the governor tapped to make it happen.