Today, Governor John Bel Edwards, along with Congressman Troy Carter, announced funding for the Southern University Ravine Protection project in East Baton Rouge Parish. Through a grant awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) will receive $7.6 million allocated towards this $35 million erosion improvement project to preserve Southern University’s ravine.
“Investing in our state’s infrastructure is a top priority and funding plays a critical role in its preservation and expansion,” said Gov. Edwards. “This administration has committed ourselves to not only securing additional funding on the state level, but also on the federal level to provide quality infrastructure projects throughout the state. I would like to express my gratitude to Congressman Carter for bringing this opportunity to DOTD, which applied for and received this funding, and to thank our congressional officials.”
This project will construct permanent erosion control measures to stabilize the ravine, which is the outfall to an approximate 852-acre watershed of Bayou Baton Rouge along the Mississippi River. This project will consist of addressing the retaining wall at the ROTC complex, tying in the emergency work at the Health Services Center, installing a weir system to control river flow, improving erosion mitigation through channel alignment modifications, and covering the entire ravine from F Street to the new weir system with block matting.
“This is more than funding for a drainage project. This is a move that will protect and shore up this historically Black university for the next generation,” said Congressman Carter. “This $7.62 million investment from the USDA’s Emergency Watershed Protection Program that I secured will do more than put a band-aid on this problem; it will be a long-term solution to protect Southern University — and this beautiful community space — from tumbling down the bluff. This is yet another example of this Congress and the federal government showing up to invest like never before in infrastructure solutions for the people of Louisiana.”
“DOTD and the Edwards administration have proven we can get results when provided the proper resources,” DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. said. “I would like to thank Congressman Carter for doing all he can to provide those resources. Today is a perfect example of state and federal officials working together to solve problems and make a positive impact on the community.”
In a continued effort to combat the erosion issues along this ravine, DOTD spent $9 million in 2019 to construct permanent erosion control and improve drainage at the F and H Street crossings. In 2021, through an emergency declaration by Gov. Edwards, DOTD expended $3 million for 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 last for approximately two years.