BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The long-awaited University Lakes Project is gaining momentum. Local and state leaders discussed what the first steps will look like on Monday.

Phase One of the project has been fully funded and the work will begin this summer.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen,” stated Governor John Bel Edwards.

Work on revitalizing the LSU Lakes has now picked up the pace. Gov. Edwards said sediment and debris will be removed from five of the six lakes and safer bike paths will be created.

“You don’t need me to tell you that the lakes have lost their luster a little bit. They’ve gotten too shallow, and they’ve not been maintained properly,” he said.

The lakes will also be improved to play a key role in drainage in the area.

“The material dredged from the lakes will be used to create a foundation of living shorelines to help manage and clean stormwater before it enters the lakes. Weirs and control structures will be improved to increase the flood stores capacity that the lakes can provide,” explained BREC Superintendent Corey Wilson.

“The lakes were deemed by an earlier study to be in decay and to be dying. And like you heard from other speakers, the ideas of creating access, creating flood mitigation, creating restoration, creating a wildlife refuge. All of these things come together, making this an important project,” added Baton Rouge Area Foundation CEO Chris Meyer.

The two largest lakes will become connected, which will allow paddlers and wildlife to move between them more freely.

LSU students and locals have looked forward to seeing the lakes back to their former glory for a long time now.

“But even just for the animals and just driving, it feels good to drive in an area where it looks clean,” said LSU student Alyssa Robins.

“I feel like it could bring more tourists and more visitors, especially since the campus is right there,” added LSU student Lizzie Guerin.

Renderings of what the University Lakes could look like after the project is completed.

With Phase One, local leaders said the lake will become easier to access for the community.

“The project will develop more access points to the lake from surrounding neighborhoods. When complete, we will have a place in the heart of Baton Rouge where families and individuals can enjoy the outdoors like never before,” said Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.

Project leaders said Phase One should be completed by December of 2023.