Adding toll lanes to the proposals for upgrading portions of U.S. 90 to Interstate standards in the Lafayette area could provide up to half of the financing, according to a new traffic study.

The Lafayette Metropolitan Expressway Commission is looking at ways to finance the work, which would eventually turn U.S. 90 into Interstate 49 South. The segment would be part of the plans to eventually upgrade the road from New Orleans to the Arkansas line.

The study prepared for the commission by HNTB said tolling would support $540 million to $725 million for the project, which is expected to cost $1 billion to $1.4 billion. Brad Guilmino, chief financial consultant at HNTB, said the remaining costs could be financed with combination of federal grants and loans, state transportation funding and local taxes.

Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy said last month that a public-private partnership might be part of the financial solution to the $5.2 billion project to upgrade the 140-mile segment of U.S. 90 from Lafayette to New Orleans.

State Rep. Billy Montgomery, D-Haughton, has introduced two constitutional amendments that would provide financial assistance to completing I-49 South. His plan calls for dedicating 1 cent of the existing state gasoline tax to the project while also raising the tax by another penny for the Interstate effort.

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