Americans may not want to pay more taxes in any way, shape or form, but they still think the government should invest more in roads and mass transit, according to a new poll done for AAA.
The results of the survey suggest that seven out of 10 Americans support more spending on roads, bridges and mass transit. Only 38 percent of Americans believe that Congress is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our roads, bridges and transit systems will meet the needs of the nation.
“Americans rely on our nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” said AAA president and CEO Marshall Doney,. “Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country.”
AAA also asked the public to rank its priorities for transportation funding. Conducting routine maintenance of roads and bridges overwhelmingly topped the list, yet all categories included in the survey received significant support. The complete rankings include:
- Conducting routine maintenance and repair of roads and bridges, such as fixing potholes, repaving roads, etc.: 91 percent rate as important
- Expanding public and shared transportation, such as busses, commuter rail and support for car-pooling: 70 percent rate as important
- Conducting traffic safety training programs on topics such as the dangers of speeding, distracted driving and driving while impaired: 67 percent rate as important
- Reducing traffic congestion and travel time by expanding lanes and adding lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles: 65 percent rate as important
- Improving transportation information technology, such as automated road and traffic warning signs and route mapping software: 64 percent rate as important
“Potholes and bad roads increase driver stress and can cause significant vehicle damage requiring costly repairs,” continued Doney. “It’s time for Congress to pass long-term funding legislation that ensures our transportation system receives the maintenance necessary to get Americans to work every day.”
Motorists pay a steep price in the form of high repair bills from hitting potholes and sitting in traffic. U.S. drivers annually spend about $324 in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs due to poor roads and bridges.
Few drivers would be surprised to learn that more than 1 in 3 major U.S. roads are in poor or mediocre condition due to inadequate funding. The American Society of Civil Engineers most recently rated the country’s roads with a nearly failing D grade, while bridges earned a C+.
Transportation underpins the U.S. economy, yet an aging system of roads and bridges threatens to harm the country’s future development. Businesses, factories, employers and consumers must be connected to a dependable and modern transportation network to help build and sustain a healthy economy. Whether it’s the movement of freight or the creation of jobs, the nation depends on seamless and efficient transportation.
Congress has wasted billions of dollars by supporting short-term funding patches for roads and bridges, and AAA is calling for a long-term transportation law that meets the needs of drivers for years to come. The current authorization of the federal highway bill is set to expire on October 29 unless Congress acts soon.
The Highway Trust Fund needs $15 billion more per year just to maintain a flat level of funding, while current federal spending meets just one-third of our transportation needs. An annual investment of $120 billion for highways and bridges between 2015 and 2020 is necessary to improve the condition and performance of the system, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.