Parish to get $2.1M for new culverts

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Washington Parish will receive more than $2.1 million to update old wooden bridges and improve drainage throughout the parish.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Washington Parish Council, Public Works Director Leo Lucchesi explained that the federal government and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s office approved phase two of the bridge-to-culvert project on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

The funding will be used to construct larger draining structures at 25 locations throughout the parish, Lucchesi said. The project will replace outdated single-span wood bridges and drainage structures, in order to improve drainage and prevent localized roadway flooding.

Lucchesi said that there were originally 47 culvert locations requested, but not every request met the qualifications. He noted that the 25 locations that were selected have flooded heavily in recent storms, including Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac.

In other business, the council:

• Heard a roadway blacktopping report from Lucchesi. He said that 49 of the 62 scheduled roads for paving have been completed so far, a completion rate of 79 percent. In addition, approximately 29 of the scheduled 35 miles have been paved (84 percent).

• Heard from Finance Director Donna Graham, who noted that sales tax collections have been steadily improving. She noted that this year’s collections are up 22 percent from 2012, up 17 percent from 2013, and up 15 percent from 2014.

“I think that’s a good indicator that the economy is getting better,” she said.

Graham said much of the sales tax collection increase can be attributed to the addition of several new Dollar General stores in the parish. She noted that all parish Dollar General stores collectively had more than $17 million in sales last year.

Graham also said that the budget process for 2016 will begin soon.

• Learned about progress at the Poole’s Bluff Nature Park. Lucchesi said that new signage requirements for the boat ramp were submitted by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. In addition, signage for entry at the fishing pier was completed by the Rayburn Correctional Center facility and will be installed this week.

The next phase of funding will be requested for planned paved parking at the pier, bicycle racks, additional water-to-land access at the boat ramp and gazebo, and for portable restrooms.

• Heard from Reginald McMasters, who is running for Parish Council District 6, and Richard Berry, who is running for Parish Council District 2.