Survey: Majority of Americans say Traffic Congestion Worse; Willing to Pay for Solutions

According to a new survey by infrastructure firm HNTB, a majority of Americans believe traffic congestion on their roads and highways has worsened since 2017 and that they are willing to pay higher taxes and tolls to fund infrastructure maintenance or new construction to help reduce that congestion.

[Above photo by VDOT.]

The results of that survey – entitled Funding Congestion Solutions-2018 and released by HNTB Oct. 15 – indicated that six in 10 of those polled or 61 percent believe traffic congestion is noticeably worse now than just a year ago, with more than seven in 10 or 73 percent indicating that they are willing to pay higher taxes and tolls to fund infrastructure maintenance or new construction to help reduce that congestion.

Furthermore, HNTB noted, if those higher taxes and tolls are guaranteed by law to be used only for infrastructure spending, support increases to 82 percent.

Photo by VDOT

“Our infrastructure network, stretched beyond capacity and in dire need of significant improvement, is a major contributor to congestion,” noted Kevin Hoeflich, HNTB’s toll services chairman and senior vice president, in a statement. “This research tells us 95 percent of Americans feel a high-quality, reliable and sustainable transportation system is needed for economic prosperity and a desirable quality of life.”

Other findings from the firm’s survey – conducted by Russell Research and based on a random nationwide sample of 1,011 Americans, aged 18 and older, between September 14 and 16 – include:

  • Recognition that increased congestion extends across every corner of the nation, with 71 percent in the West, 63 percent in the South, plus 53 percent of respondents in both the Northeast and Midwest in agreement.
  • Among those respondents willing to pay more in taxes and tolls for infrastructure, 46 percent prefer tolls paid only by users of tolled roads, bridges, or tunnels, while 27 percent believe taxes that everyone pays should be the source of funding.
  • When sufficient funds are not available from other sources to maintain current infrastructure, as well as build new transportation capacity, the survey found that 79 percent support higher taxes and tolls for maintenance needs.
  • When investments from public-private partnerships were considered as means to fund infrastructure costs, 55 percent of those polled preferred repaying investors through tolls paid by the users of that specific highway or bridge versus 45 percent who favored taxes paid by everyone.

The firm added that it “explored interest” via its survey about “priced managed lanes,” more commonly known as express toll lanes, as a potential traffic congestion solution.

Priced managed lanes are tolled lanes operating in the middle of non-tolled highways, providing drivers with the option to pay a toll to avoid congestion and have a predictable travel time, HNTB said, and its survey found 64 percent of those polled believe such lanes can help manage or reduce highway congestion.


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