First phase of University Lakes Project fully funded

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Mayor Sharon Weston Broome today announced the first phase of the University Lakes Project has been fully funded, with construction led by Sevenson Environmental Services to begin this summer.

The Louisiana Watershed Initiative is contributing $10 million to 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 rain events. The CDBG-MIT funding represents nearly one-third of the money committed for phase one, with the rest of the funding coming together from other sources.

The coalition that was formed to restore the lakes includes the state of Louisiana, the city of Baton Rouge and parish of East Baton Rouge, BREC, LSU, and the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. The University Lakes Project is being implemented by University Lakes LLC, which was established by the LSU Real Estate and Facilities Foundation, an affiliate of the LSU Foundation.

The first phase of the project includes water quality, flood risk reduction (dredging) efforts and mobility improvements addressing the key areas identified as critical by participants in the public engagement process. The dredging will allow City Park, Erie, College, Crest and Campus lakes to be deepened, as well as a portion of University Lake. Other major elements of phase one include:

  1. Using dredged material to  create the foundation for living shorelines to help manage and clean stormwater before it enters the lakes.
  2. Implementing weirs and control structures to increase the flood storage capacity that the lakes can provide.
  3. City Park and University Lakes will become hydraulically connected and a new May Street bridge will be constructed, which will allow paddlers and wildlife to move between the two largest lakes more freely.

Phase one completion is expected by December 2023 at a total cost of $32 million. The second phase, which is dependent upon future funding, will deepen and reshape the remainder of University Lake. See the announcement. 

This story originally appeared in an April 25 issue of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.