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The first phase of the LSU Lakes Restoration Project is expected to begin by summer

BATON ROUGE — On Monday, state and parish officials discussed the first steps of the long-awaited LSU Lakes Restoration Project.

During the press conference, Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome announced that the first phase of the University Lake project was fully funded. Work should start in just a few months.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone for the greater community of Baton Rouge and the many people in our state who regularly visit and enjoy University Lakes,” Governor Edwards said.

The project will increase the stormwater retention capacity of the lakes and reduce flood levels in surrounding areas during rainfall events.

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is contributing $10 million toward the first phase of the project through CDBG-MIT funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The first phase is expected to be completed in December 2023 at a total cost of $32 million.

Read the full state announcement below.

Governor John Bel Edwards and Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, joined by other University Lakes Project partners, announced today that Phase 1 of the University Lakes Project is now fully funded. Construction will begin this summer, under the direction of Sevenson Environmental Services. The governor and mayor-president shared public comments alongside LSU President William F. Tate IV, Baton Rouge Area Foundation CEO Chris Meyer and BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone for the greater community of Baton Rouge and the many people in our state who regularly visit and enjoy the University Lakes,” Governor Edwards said. “The start of lake restoration work is only a few months away. This important and exciting initiative is the result of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s early vision and more recent collaboration and funding from several community partners. As we revitalize and improve this much-loved area of ​​Baton Rouge, we will also reduce flood risk for surrounding areas and increase recreational facilities for the entire community.

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is contributing $10 million toward Phase 1 of the project through CDBG-MIT funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The project will increase the stormwater retention capacity of the lakes and reduce flood levels in surrounding areas during rainfall events. The project is proposed to expand the floodplain, create marshes, improve water quality, and restore wetlands and fish and wildlife habitats at LSU and City Park lakes. It will address flood storage through an improved retention pond and drainage, reducing flood levels for low-to-moderate income areas north of the LSU campus, including the McKinley High School campus and areas downstream of the lakes. Funding from CDBG-MIT represents nearly one-third of the funding committed for Phase 1.

The coalition that has been formed to restore the lakes includes the State of Louisiana, the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, BREC, LSU and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The University Lakes Project is implemented by University Lakes, LLC, which was established by the LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation, an affiliate of the LSU Foundation. Mayor-President Broome noted the collaborative nature of the project partnership and echoed the importance of the project to the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish.

Mayor Broome said, University Lakes has long been a place where Baton Rouge residents and our visitors gather, fish, exercise and enjoy nature. These improvements will make it a possibility for many more people in the future and will enhance the experience for anyone who spends time in this area.

The first phase of the University Lakes Project includes water quality, flood risk reduction (dredging) and mobility enhancement efforts in key areas identified as critical by participants in the engagement process public. Dredging will deepen City Park, Erie, College, Crest and Campus lakes, as well as part of University Lake. The main elements of phase 1 are:

-Dredge material will be used to create the foundation for living shorelines to help manage and clean up stormwater before it enters the lakes.

-Spillways and control structures will be improved to increase the flood storage capacity that the lakes can provide.

-City Park and University Lakes will be hydraulically connected and a new bridge over May Street will be built, allowing paddlers and wildlife to move more freely between the two larger lakes.

-Key mobility improvements will include crucial safety adjustments at intersections and the provision of dedicated lanes for pedestrians and cyclists in areas where they are most needed.

Completion of Phase 1 is expected by December 2023 at a total cost of $32 million. Phase 2, which depends on future funding, will deepen and reshape the rest of University Lake.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion