By T. Scott Boatright
Ruston’s Board of Aldermen took another step toward bringing a Buc-ee’s Travel Center to the western edge of the city while also approving a pair of resolutions for improvements at Ruston Regional Airport as they held their monthly meeting Monday night.
After reappointing longtime member Fred Blake to a five-year term to the Board of Adjustment, Ruston’s aldermen approved a resolution authorizing the city to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state of Louisiana that will allow the city to access $6 million in state funding allocated for Phase I of the Buc-ee’s Travel Center service road.
“The best part of this appropriated funding is that we do not have to have a match for it,” said Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker. “It is basically cash money we can spend straight on. That’s really good and I appreciate all of our legislators who helped get (the funding) passed in the state session earlier this summer.”
Also passed were the two resolutions involving the airport that will be fully funded by the Federal Aviation Administration and the lighting system at the facility.
“Previously we had submitted a (grant) request for an approach lighting system to the FAA, and they have been so good as to fund that request,” said John Freeman. “So this agreement allows us to proceed with this project and take the next step to receive that grant award.”
The second resolution passed relating to the airport was the Board of Aldermen authorizing the city to accept a low bid of $240,206 for that approach lighting system.
“Confident the grant was forthcoming, the city did authorize the bidding process for the project,” Freeman said. “The bids were opened on Oct. 3. A total of four were received and the lowest bid comes from EMS Electric of Monroe LLC in the amount of $240,206, so we’d like permission to accept that.
“The grant fully funds that and engineering oversight as well, so the grant will actually be more than that (low bid) amount.”
Freeman said work is unlikely to begin until after the first of the year because of equipment procurement issues that seem to arise more and more these days.
Ruston’s aldermen also passed a pair of resolutions authorizing the city to enter into a pair of professional services contracts with Hunt, Guillot and Associates.
The first resolution was related to the East Kentucky Avenue West Project.
“This will design a three-lane East Kentucky with all the pedestrian amenities and relocating aerial utilities underground from Highway 167 to the Goodwin and Greenbriar Road area,” said Public Works Director Andrew Halbrook. “It’s a little over a mile and is the fifth and final phase of this project.”
The second resolution sets up a professional services contract with Hunt, Guillot and Associates related to the South Farmerville Street Improvements Project.
“This will rebuild South Farmerville Street from MLK all the way to Tennessee (Avenue),” Halbrook said. “We’re going to completely rebuild the road from the ground up, however we’re going to remain two lanes.
“We’re going to add pedestrian infrastructure connecting all of the housing areas with the Sports Complex, new commercial opportunities in the Ruston Business Park as well as the healthcare amenities at Green Clinic the hospital. This project has been funded with federal appropriations (U.S. Reo.) Julia Letlow’s office helped with.”
Walker said that both of those resolutions were passed at this time to allow Hunt, Guillot and Associates to begin their work while adding that any construction work on the projects will probably not begin for two to three years.
Ruston’s City Council also introduced five ordinances that will be discussed and possibly voted on during next month’s meeting.
One of those introduced ordinances was one to potentially amend Ruston’s Code of Ordinances by changing certain boundaries provided for therein to approved a preliminary plat for the proposed Oaks at Kentucky subdivision.
Ruston’s Planning and Zoning Commission denied the request of preliminary plat approval for the townhouse project last month after complaints from Rhody Drive residents.