MONROE, La. (KNOE) - New stores and shopping may be headed to Monroe. The city council has given the okay to get land for new business along I-20. The move would extend Frontage Road and connect to Nutland Road.
On one side of 1-20, there are restaurants, businesses, and Pecanland Mall. On the other side, there’s nothing.
"We’re trying to do some expansion out there in the I-20 district so the district can continue to grow," I-20 Board chair Ottis Chisley says.
Chisley says bringing business to that side starts with a road.
"Because when you open it up you have access and access is key," he says.
So far the city has almost all of the land to build that road, except for a small chunk which they say is only about five feet wide and 100 feet long.
"It's literally just being able to have the ability to come in and put utilities that are needed to connect the roadway and the roadbed and so it's a small parcel of property but it's the last little thing that's going to tile this together," city councilman Michael Echols explains.
The city council is in the legal process of taking over the property, which they say is the only option at this point.
"Anytime government says the word ‘expropriate’ and has to go out and try to acquire property through that process it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but in this case it's literally just for utilities and other basic things to be able to build the road bed," Echols says.
They say construction will begin when they finally get this last piece of land to create space for hotels, shopping centers, and more.
"When you open up the I-20 corridor, you're going to open it up to business and business interests," Chisley says.
They also believe adding the road will help traffic.
"People sometimes won't go out there strictly because it's so congested for holidays. So now if we get all of that open it's going to work for everybody. It's a win-win situation," Chisley says.
They say this road will be a path that moves Monroe forward.
"I think over the next year or two you'll see a lot of development projects in roadway and infrastructure that should alleviate both traffic and create some new development opportunities for the city," Echols says.
Frontage Road is opening up even more. The I-20 Board says it's found a new engineer to redesign the road slab to fix the bridge, which they're trying to work on as soon as possible.
All of these improvements to Frontage Road won't cost taxpayers any extra money. The I-20 Board says the project gets money from a portion of sales taxes from stores in the area.