“This particular bill is trying to address two of the major arteries that feed our oil and gas and petrochemical industries, and whether we like it or not, those are two industries that are the backbone of this state,” Rep. Chad Brown, a co-author on the bill who represents Assumption and Iberville, said during the debate Wednesday.

A relief plan for one of the southern region’s worst areas of congestion gained perhaps the biggest measure of support yet.

Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters Thursday he would be inclined to sign a bill that would lead to construction of a connection from south end of La. 415 to La. 1, south of the Intracoastal Waterway.

“We still have to pass the bill, but if we’re fortunate enough to do so, we know Gov. Edwards is committed to passing the bill, and that will but probably help in giving people confidence to vote,” said state Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen.

The construction of the highway would bring considerable relief to the frequent traffic snarls and wrecks along the stretch of Interstate 10 that leads to the Mississippi River Bridge.

“This particular bill is trying to address two of the major arteries that feed our oil and gas and petrochemical industries, and whether we like it or not, those are two industries that are the backbone of this state,” Rep. Chad Brown, a co-author on the bill who represents Assumption and Iberville, said during the debate Wednesday.

The worst tie-ups occur between La. 415 and the Mississippi River Bridge, but congestion often extends miles beyond the two-mile gap and triggers jams north and south of the artery.

The announcement came one day after the House, on a 97-4 vote, gave the green light to House Bill 578, which would allow use of funds from a near-$10 billion settlement from British Petroleum for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The governor’s support is a massive breakthrough for this project,” said New Roads GOP House member Jeremy Lacombe, who represents West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes and the northernmost portion of Iberville. “What’s also important is that this bill drew 97 votes, and that’s as big a sign of a bipartisan effort that you’ll find in the Capital.”

The issue breezed through the House Appropriations Committee without objection in late April.

“We’re halfway there on this bill,” Lacombe said.

Lacombe, who made his comments by phone late Thursday night, said the La. 415 project was a common issue during discussion with constituents during his campaign earlier this year.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Tanner Magee, R-Houma, now heads to the Senate for debate

The artery would bring considerable relief to the frequent traffic snarls and wrecks along the stretch of Interstate 10 which leads to the Mississippi River Bridge.

The worst tie-ups occur between La. 415 and the Mississippi River Bridge, but congestion often extends miles beyond the two-mile gap and triggers jams north and south of the artery.

The work along La. 415 would run approximately $145 million.

The state will get $50 million for 14 years form the BP settlement. Forty-five percent of the money currently goes toward budget stabilization and another 45 percent to the Medicaid Trust Fund for the Elderly.

The plan would redirect the Medicaid fund to infrastructure and reimburse it starting next year, Magee said.

The project already has $50 million set aside -- $25 million from the Port of Greater Baton Rouge and $25 million from business and industry.

The project’s origins date back to 1972 – a wear before the completion of the I-10 stretch to Lafayette –when it was identified as a priority in the West Baton Rouge Parish Master Plan.

The diversion of revenue would also fund completion of an La. 1 elevation in Plaquemines, Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, all of which are highly susceptible to flooding.

The project will cost approximately $343 million.

A report by Dr. Loren Scott and LSU Economist Jim Richardson revealed that the U.S. economy loses $22 million each hour the La. 1 artery is out of commission in the coastal parishes.