NELA Mayors lobby lawmakers in Washington D.C.

NELA Mayors Discuss Washington Trip
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 8:55 PM CST
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Mayors from across Northeast Louisiana are back are lobbying lawmakers at the nation’s capital.

Mayor Friday Ellis of Monroe and Mayor Ronny Walker of Ruston agreed that bringing passenger rail to Northeast Louisiana was a top priority.

“I feel very confident we will probably get, if not all the money that we need, a large part of it,” Mayor Walker told KNOE. “As far as Amtrak itself coming to North Louisiana, I think it’s going to happen.”

Ellis says bringing Amtrak to Monroe was one of three priorities he discussed with lawmakers.

“Number two is going to be the interchange two miles east of Millhaven to open 1,800 acres of property to look for… what we consider a mega site,” explained Ellis.

In addition, Ellis says it’s important for the city to receive funding to upgrade the Monroe Civic Center.

“We’re looking for about $6 million for all three of those projects because the first dollars we are going to draw down are site readiness and environmental,” said Ellis.

Over in Ruston, Walker says the city’s expansion is forcing them to consider expanding its power grid.

“We are looking at upgrading it because our city is growing quickly,” said Walker. “With businesses mostly commercial businesses. So we will need to upgrade and expand our grid.”

Mayor Walker adds a lot of time in Washington, D.C. was spent on an exciting new opportunity for Ruston.

“We were talking about a major, major company that we are trying to recruit that is going to depend on a lot of federal assistance,” explained Walker.

Walker did not provide specifics on what company of industry the city is negotiating with because the deal is not done yet.