City holds press conference to discuss RAISE grant

Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. held a press conference on Aug. 18 to discuss the$17 million RAISE grant the City of Natchitoches was recently awarded. This grant will provide a transformative impact that will spur economic development on one of the oldest business corridors in historic Natchitoches, Texas Street.

This includes installing sidewalks and lighting and the implementation of the Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan of 2020 across the entire City. Residents on Dixie Street, as well as Parkway Drive, will see the results of this grant at work.

This also means that the City has raised a total of nearly $23 million in grant funding in less than two years.

Mayor Williams said he’s looking forward to hiring and working with the best and brightest to draw talent and be competitive in the 21st century. He added that Natchitoches needs people bold in their thinking and willing to take risks.

“We’re not gonna stop here,” said Williams. “More is to come.”

Engineer Nick Verret said this project focuses on pedestrian and bicycle safety with countermeasures such as sidewalks, high visibility crosswalk markings, pedestrian signals and rapid flashing beacons will be installed in key locations, overhead street lighting, along with street and drainage improvements.

Even though our target area is West Natchitoches, most of the bicycle and pedestrian master plan will bring safety improvements everywhere in Natchitoches for residents and visitors alike,” he explained.

Over the next few months a project agreement will be drafted. By first of 2023 should be able to procure engineering design services. Surveys, plans and design work should take a year, so about mid 2025 will go forward with bids, with construction work beginning at the end of 2025. The work itself will take a few years, so total competition should occur in 2027.

La. DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson spoke to the need for safety measures throughout the state.