City Council Discusses Local Bypasses AgainJuly 31st, 2013 by Sarah Spencer
At their last meeting, the Mayor addressed the Council about the possible construction of two roads with a grant from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department. These roads would run from North Scogin Drive to Hwy. 278 and from Hwy. 278 to Barkada Road, for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion.
The Highway Department is currently holding a grant for the City in the amount of $1 million, to be used for road construction. The grant was funded by the Federal Government, and although the Federal Government has stopped the program, the State Highway Department still has some of the money for the grants. Because the City of Monticello had their grant application approved before the Federal funding ended, the AHTD will provide the money for grant to the City of Monticello. The grant money will probably be available in 2015, or possibly 2016. The City will have to pay the AHTD $35,000 to get the $1 million. If the City follows through and builds the roads, the $35,000 will be refunded. The road projects will cost approximately $3.5-$4 million for the road from Scogin Drive to Hwy. 278, and approximately $2-2.5 million for the road from Hwy. 278 to Barkada Road. The City of Monticello will need the balance of the money to complete the road projects in order to get the $1 million.
The City Council discussed whether they should plan to build one or both roads, and how to raise the additional funds needed. The Council discussed the possibility of financing through the local banks, or by issuing bonds. A representative of Stevens, Inc. addressed the Council about bonds. The Mayor stated that he is anticipating meeting with the AHTD in the next week or two, as well as the bond advisors, and will report back to the Council. Council members raised the question of the City’s project priorities, with all Council members agreeing that the water project is the most pressing. It was suggested that a Planning Committee should be formed to establish what the City’s top priority projects will be.