Baton Rouge set to receive coastal restoration hub

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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - History may someday show what happened today in downtown Baton Rouge as the day we finally got it. Scientists and conservationists have long sounded alarms about coastal land loss.

Now, politicians and corporate leaders have joined forces with them-- and for baton rouge --the payoff could be huge. Something called a water campus, could be the very thing that help some of south Louisiana from slipping into the Gulf.

This world class research hub will be developed on 30 acres of land from the foot of the 1-10 Mississippi river bridge south towards LSU. Governor Bobby Jindal boasted that the economic boon could ultimately result in 20 to 40,000 jobs for the area.

"With hurricanes and other natural and man-made disasters that have frequently impacted our state, we must continue to build upon our coastal improvements by making investments in projects like this new Water Campus - which will be guided by the best science available to further protect our people and our coast," Jindal said. "The science, engineering, and technology that we are developing here in south Louisiana are not just related to individual coastal projects. They are related to a new and growing industry in our state."

Also announced was the construction of three office buildings in largely unused land stretching from the foot of the Horace Wilkinson Bridge (New Bridge) at the levee to Nicholson Drive and south approximately three blocks to the area where the former Evans Electrical Store is located.

The Water Institute of the Gulf, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, City of Baton Rouge and LSU are among the key players involved in this international coastal wetlands effort. Baton Rouge Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer said it expands the footprint of the DDD and the downtown area. The immediate impact would be 500 jobs, with a high pay scale, as Baton Rouge will serve as the epicenter of the Coastal Restoration movement for the entire Gulf Coast region.

"Indeed, what is a multi-billion dollar coastal sector in Louisiana is going to be a multi-trillion industry worldwide - and the new campus will help us cultivate that industry and become a pipeline for coastal expertise. We'll be able to provide students and researchers at different universities the opportunity to unify their efforts and find innovative coastal solutions together in a world class facility," Jindal added.

With this being just the first phase, its expected growth will be quick with hotels, other office businesses and even residential buildings to become part of the sprawling development. Construction is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2014. Officials added the initial investment of land and construction is $50 million.

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