LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Contraband Bayou and other bodies of water in Calcasieu Parish are a place for people to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
However, over the years, erosion and pollution have made it a bit of an eyesore for students at McNeese, where a portion of the bayou runs on the south side of campus.
After a conversation that has spanned over 20 years, the state has decided to give a $6.5 million project the green light.
“We realized we had to get more serious about it and do some things to prevent the erosion from continuing on the bayou,” Richard Roden, Director of Facilities and Plant Maintenance at McNeese, said.
The university received the funding in 2017.
Throughout this two-year period, they’ve developed plans with the help of Corps of Engineers.
“In 2012, we brought it up to the top of our list, brought it to the legislature, and it got their attention,” Roden said.
Contraband Bayou is known as a treasured landmark for local residents. With the planned restorations and improvements, Roden says it will help to address a lot of issues.
“Over the years, people have tried different things. They’ve thrown concrete along the banks to try to keep it from eroding, but actuall,y it didn’t help a great deal. The dirt and everything erodes underneath it, so it just creates spots for vermin to live in,” Roden said.
High grass, broken concrete and constant weather changes have only increased the potential for hazards on campus.
“It’s a big part of our campus. It’s what makes Mcneese, McNeese, and it’d be really nice to make it look nicer; draw in some retention to it,” one student said.
In addition to addressing erosion issues, the project will improve lighting and walkways from the main campus to the student apartments and residence halls on the south campus.
“The project is mainly for erosion, but it obviously has an aesthetic component,” Roden said. “We want it to look nice as well for what we’re doing. We’re expanding the size of our pedestrian walk bridge and actually adding another walk bridge.”
“With it being by Collette Hall and all the apartments, it would just give a more uplifting feel, better scenery,” the student said.
This project is just one of a few priorities that McNeese plans to implement throughout the year.
“It’s been in our five-year Capital Outlay request since 1989, but again, we have various priorities on campus, different things that need to be done,” Roden said.
Funding for the project was awarded back in 2017 through the states Capital Outlay Fund.
Construction should begin during the second quarter of 2019.