HNTB survey: Frustration with increasing congestion has Americans willing to pay higher tolls and taxes for infrastructure improvements

Survey shows Americans believe congestion has increased over the past year.

Key findings include:
Six in 10 Americans believe congestion has increased since last year.
Seventy-three percent of Americans are willing to pay higher taxes and tolls to fund infrastructure costs.
Support for higher taxes and tolls increases to 82 percent if funds are guaranteed by law to be used exclusively for infrastructure. 

NEW YORK (Oct. 15, 2018) – Across the nation, Americans say congestion on their roads and highways has continued to worsen since last year, according to a new HNTB Corporation America THINKS national public opinion survey. The survey, “Funding Congestion Solutions-2018” found 61 percent of Americans believe traffic congestion is noticeably worse now than just a year ago, and more than seven in 10 Americans (73 percent) are willing to pay higher taxes and tolls to fund infrastructure maintenance or new construction to help reduce that congestion. If these higher taxes and tolls are guaranteed by law to be used only for infrastructure spending, support increases to 82 percent, according to the survey.

“Americans place a high value on mobility and recognize the need to fund their share of the costs through higher taxes or tolls to help reduce congestion,” said Kevin Hoeflich, PE, HNTB toll services chairman and senior vice president. “As a nation, we need to explore every available alternative to provide a reliable and long-term source of revenue to build a world-class transportation network.”

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, the survey found that nearly eight in 10 Americans (79 percent) support higher taxes and tolls for that purpose. 

When investments from public-private partnerships were considered as means to fund infrastructure costs, more than half of those surveyed (55 percent) preferred repaying investors through tolls paid by the users of that specific highway or bridge versus 45 percent who favored taxes paid by everyone. 

“Our infrastructure network, stretched beyond capacity and in dire need of significant   improvement, is a major contributor to congestion,” said Hoeflich. “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.”

Recognition of increased congestion extends across every corner of the U.S., with more than seven in 10 Americans (71 percent) in the West, and 63 percent in the South, as well as 53 percent of respondents in both the Northeast and Midwest in agreement.

HNTB’s survey explored interest in priced managed lanes, or express lanes, as a potential 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. The survey found almost two in three Americans surveyed (64 percent), believe these lanes can help manage or reduce highway congestion.

Funding Congestion Solutions-2018 also found that even when a free non-tolled alternative is available, 79 percent of Americans surveyed would still pay a toll if that would enable them to avoid congestion and have a predictable travel time. Reflecting the growing frustration with increased congestion, this is a substantial increase from the results of a similar 2016 HNTB survey that found 69 percent of respondents willing to pay tolls for this reason.

About the survey
HNTB’s America THINKS survey, Funding Congestion Solutions-2018, polled a random nationwide sample of 1,011Americans, ages 18 and older, between September 14 and September 16, 2018. It was conducted by Russell Research, which used an email invitation and online survey. Quotas were set to ensure reliable representation of the entire U.S. population ages 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent.

About HNTB
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving public and private owners and contractors. With more than a century of service in the United States, HNTB understands the life cycle of infrastructure and addresses clients’ most complex technical, financial and operational challenges. Professionals nationwide deliver a full range of infrastructure-related services, including award-winning planning, design, program management and construction management. For more information, visit www.hntb.com.

Contact:
David Fridling
(917) 438-0900