Concordia leaders head to D.C. on lobbying trip again this week

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 12, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Officials of Concordia Parish and its towns are in Washington, D.C., this week, asking the area’s congressional delegation to include four-laning of U.S. 84 in the next federal transportation bill.

Officials on the trip include Concordia Parish Police Jury President Charlie Blaney, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland and Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin.

The group is asking for funding for four-laning of highways along the historic El Camino Real trail, which ran from Brunswick, Ga., through Natchez and Vidalia to El Paso, Texas. Those highways include U.S. 84.

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Advocates of the project hope the funding can be included in the Federal Transportation Act when the act is renewed in 2003. A specific amount of funding has not yet been determined.

In order to insure the future economic development of Concordia Parish, &uot;we’ve got to try and get U.S. 84 four-laned,&uot; McGlothin said last week.

&uot;The depressed areas in central Louisiana will benefit from the economic enhancement&uot; of the heritage tourism and industry the project will bring into the area, according to Jim Pratt, Louisiana El Camino Real Commission president.

Four-laning of U.S. 84 is almost complete through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi but is only 30 percent funded in Louisiana, Pratt said.

Blaney, Copeland, McGlothin, state Rep. Bryant Hammett, D-Ferriday, and other local officials last traveled to Washington, D.C., Feb. 21-23 to visit with staff members for congressmen and senators whose districts include Concordia Parish.

They were there in large part to push for Concordia’s share of the $80 million that impoverished counties and parishes in the Mississippi River Basin will be vying for soon under the Delta Initiative program.

Other projects local representatives discussed with federal officials during that trip — and are expected to discuss during this week’s trip — included the Vidalia Landing riverfront project and forgiveness of debt owed by Ferriday on its current water plant.