BATON ROUGE - As head of the Capital Region Legislative Delegation, Rep. Stephen Carter (R-Baton Rouge) said his group's number one priority is alleviating traffic congestion through Baton Rouge.

"We are 30 strong," Carter said of the group. "We meet quite a bit and we discuss our priorities."

The group's plan is to build a toll road alongside existing state highways, diverting traffic from I-10 onto Highways 190, Airline and Jefferson.

"It would be a road from Gonzales to the old bridge," Carter said. "We already have property from the state."

The first phase would direct eastbound traffic on the west side of the river past Grosse Tete, up to Highway 190 east. And eastbound traffic from Baton Rouge would travel over the old bridge on the same route.

An estimated 120,000 vehicles travel over the I-10 Mississippi River bridge each day. The plan is to shift some of that load over to the less-traveled Highway 190 corridor and upgrade it to interstate quality.

The lawmakers are looking for $3.5 million in funding this year to complete a permitting process that involves environmental studies. Governor Bobby Jindal's office said they are committed to projects that will reduce traffic in Baton Rouge. Area legislators are counting on his continued support.

"We'll just have to wait and see," Carter said. "Hopefully it's something he'll seriously consider and something we can push towards to help Baton Rouge with its traffic situation."

The first phase of the project, which is the northern edge, is estimated to cost around $800 million. That money would probably come from bonds or private investment.

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