Here’s where the University Lakes Project stands right now

A rendering of the University Lakes after planned improvements. (University Lakes Project)

After kicking off in earnest in June of last year, Phase 1 of the University Lakes Project is “progressing well.”

That’s according to CSRS Principal Mark Goodson, the project lead. A joint venture comprising Brailsford & Dunlavey and CSRS serves as the project’s adviser.

With a stated goal of “reimagining the University Lakes System,” the ambitious, multiyear project involves deepening the lakes to foster a more sustainable aquatic system; improving flood protection for upstream and downstream communities; improving natural habitats; and improving and diversifying recreational uses.

Phase 1 of the University Lakes Project has three main components: dredging, weir modification and improvements to May Street.

Goodson says the first component—dredging City Park Lake and Erie Lake—is “making good progress” and is expected to be completed by the end of July.

The weir at the outfall of University Lake near Stanford Avenue has been modified with gates that can be opened and closed to regulate water levels ahead of severe weather, protecting nearby communities from floods. This component was completed within the past few weeks.

As for May Street, a new channel will be dug between City Park Lake and University Lake and a new bridge will be built to span that channel. May Street itself will be “realigned” to add bike and pedestrian paths, enhance landscaping and lighting, and improve safety at its intersections with Dalrymple and East Lakeshore drives. Construction on this final component is expected to begin in August or September and is likely to last about 12 or 13 months.

Phase 2 is divided into two “subphases”—Phase 2A and Phase 2B.

Phase 2A involves dredging College Lake and the northern half of University Lake. Work on this subphase is already underway and is expected to be completed in February of next year.

Phase 2B will see the southern half of University Lake dredged, though funding for this subphase has yet to be approved. House Bill 2 would fund Phase 2B, and if that legislation passes, work on this subphase would begin as soon as Phase 2A wraps up next February.

Throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2, some of the dredged sediment will be used to build up shorelines that will then be landscaped.

Beyond Phase 2, additional improvements called for in the University Lakes Project master plan are contingent upon future funding. The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, BREC, LSU, the LSU Foundation and the city-parish are partners on the project.