NATCHITOCHES, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The oldest permanent settlement in Louisiana is looking to upgrade to some more modern features.

Natchitoches is looking to build bike paths and pedestrian lanes throughout the city.

With all its foot traffic and tourism, Mayor Ronnie Williams is looking for a way to pay for a plan that was approved by the city council before he took office.

Mayor Williams recently traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with federal delegates and Department of Transportation officials to advocate for a type of infrastructure grant called the Raise Grant.

“It’s really about improving surface transportation in an area,” Williams said.

He explains the City of Natchitoches previously adopted the Revitalization Safe Streets project, which includes bike paths and pedestrian lanes.

“It’s an extensive plan where the folks who studied and planned it determined where we could use bike paths. Where we could use additional sidewalks.”

But funding is needed to get the projects underway and the Raise Grant could provide up to $25 million.

“If we wanted to finance everything, there’s really no way in the city’s budget we could do that. So it would have been a plan just sitting there on the shelf. There may have been some small things we could do in our budget, but the only way we could really finance the bike and pedestrian plan was through a grant opportunity like the Raise Grant.”

He said they’re also looking to improve older parts of the city along Texas Street.

“Texas Street is an area we would like to see some more businesses come open up,” Williams said.

With Natchitoches being a college town, tourism destination, and retirement haven, Williams said these ‘quality of life’ features can help modernize the city.

“We’re hopeful that we will get some good news. We just don’t know. It’s a really competitive grant.”

The City of Natchitoches will find out in November if they are awarded the grant.

Download the KTAL News app 📲