Located downhill from the University of Lynchburg, College Lake was created after the city built a dam under Lakeside Drive in 1934. For many years, students and nearby residents used the lake for swimming, canoeing, fishing, and ice skating.
The city-owned dam has been labeled “high-hazard” by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation for many years. In 2018, a flood damaged the structure and caused concern for its future.
Since then, the city and the University have identified removing the dam as the most sustainable, long-term solution. The engineering and design phase of the project, led by engineering firm AECOM, should last about 18 months.
During the dam removal design phase, the city plans to build a bridge to replace the roadway over the dam so traffic interruption will be minimal. Draining of the lake and decommissioning of the dam will begin once the new Lakeside Drive bridge and roundabout are complete in 2022.
After the dam removal, teams will work to restore the lake bed into a healthy habitat with a creek and wetlands. During the process, Lynchburg students will have opportunities to take part in studies and environmental testing. Some of that work is already underway. Long term, they will use the area as an outdoor laboratory for studying the environment.