Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and Congressman Troy Carter announced funding for the Southern University Ravine Protection Project in East Baton Rouge Parish. Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will receive $7.6 million for this water quality improvement project. erosion of 35 million dollars to preserve the ravine of the University of the South.
“Investing in our state’s infrastructure is a top priority and funding plays a critical role in preserving and expanding it,” Governor Edwards said. “This administration is committed to not only securing additional funding at the state level, but also at the federal level to deliver quality infrastructure projects across the state. I would like to express my gratitude to Congressman Carter for providing this opportunity to DOTD, which requested and received this funding, and thank our congressional officials.
This project will construct permanent erosion control measures to stabilize the ravine, which is the outlet of an approximately 852-acre Bayou Baton Rouge watershed along the Mississippi River. This project will consist of treating the retaining wall of the ROTC complex, linking emergency works to the health services center, installing a weir system to control the flow of the river, improving erosion mitigation through changes to the channel alignment and covering the entire ravine from F Street to the new weir system with boulder mats.
“It’s more than funding for a drainage project. It is a decision that will protect and strengthen this historically black university for the next generation,” Congressman Carter said. “This $7.62 million investment from the USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program that I secured will do more than provide a band-aid to this problem; it will be a long-term solution to protect the University of the South – and this beautiful community space – from the fall of the cliff. This is yet another example of this Congress and the federal government coming forward to invest like never before in infrastructure solutions for the people of Louisiana.
“DOTD and the Edwards Administration have proven that we can achieve results when the right resources are provided,” DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. said. “I want to thank Congressman Crater for doing all he can to provide these resources. Today is a perfect example of federal and state officials working together to solve problems and have a positive impact on the community.
In an ongoing effort to address erosion issues along this ravine, DOTD spent $9 million in 2019 to construct permanent erosion control and improve drainage at the intersections of F and H streets. 2021, thanks to an emergency declaration from Governor Edwards, DOTD spent $3 million on an emergency repair project, which is currently under construction.
Preconstruction began in September 2021, and full construction is expected to begin in fall 2024 and take approximately two years.