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Southern University getting additional $7 million to stop campus erosion

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BATON ROUGE - An additional $7 million in federal funding is going toward efforts to protect Southern University's campus from erosion.

The United States Department of Agriculture will give the state a $7.62 million grant to use in the $35 million Bayou Baton Rouge erosion improvement project to conserve the university's ravine along the Mississippi River.

The storm runoff and river fluctuations eroding the bank are endangering the university's facilities and utilities, as well as the safety of people on campus. 

Congressman Troy Carter Sr.—alongside Governor Jon Bel Edwards, Southern University Chairman Edwin Shorty and Southern University President-Chancellor Ray Belton—announced the funding for the Southern University Ravine Protection project Wednesday.

“This is more than funding for a drainage project, this is a move that will protect and shore up this historic HBCU 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 put a band-aid on this problem, it will be a long-term solution to protect Southern University." 

Lawmakers hope more permanent measures will stabilize the ravine, which is an outfall to a roughly 852-acre water shed along the Mississippi River. The erosion is currently threatening about $43 million worth of property.

DOTD previously spent $9 million in 2019 to create permanent erosion control and improve drainage at the F and H Street crossings.

The department spent another $3 million in 2021 for an emergency repair project. Pre-construction for the project began in September. Full construction is expected to begin in fall 2024 and last for approximately two years. 

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