Voters agree: U.S. would benefit from better roads, improved public transportation options

A new survey by the Rockefeller Foundation about transportation infrastructure has found that two out of three voters say making improvements to the country’s transportation infrastructure is very important, and most voters say that in its current state the nation’s transportation system is barely adequate according to.

The new survey, released yesterday, finds that there is wide agreement among voters – even across partisan lines – that leaders in Washington should seek common ground. Nowhere is this more true, the survey finds, than with legislation related to the country’s transportation infrastructure. Voters want better and safer roads and more public transportation options, widely agreeing that the United States would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system.

Moreover, few believe that current government spending in this area is efficient and wise, and voters welcome a range of reforms in how transportation projects are financed. At the same time, as is the case with many spending-related issues today, voters are unwilling to personally pay for additional funding of national transportation projects. While wide support exists for encouraging more private investment, imposing penalties on over-budget projects, and establishing a National Infrastructure Bank, there is very little support for increasing the federal gas tax or increasing tolls on interstate highways and bridges.

Among the survey’s key findings:

  • Voters – be they Democrats, Republicans, or independents – are looking for cooperation and consensus in Washington. Two-thirds (66%) of voters say this is a time where they would like leaders in Washington to make compromises and seek common ground, compared with just 20% who say leaders should hold fast to their positions (another 10% say it depends on the issue). Interestingly, this sentiment crosses party lines: 74% of Democrats, 65% of independents, 58% of Republicans and even 46% of voters who identify as Tea Party supporters say leaders should be seeking common ground.
  • Voters want common ground on transportation legislation more than on any other issue. 71% of voters say there should be common ground on this issue—higher than other major issues—while 19% say leaders should hold fast to their positions, which is lower than other major issues.
  • Two in three voters say that improving the nation’s infrastructure is highly important, and many say our current infrastructure system is inadequate.66% of voters say that improving the country’s transportation infrastructure is “extremely” or “very” important. Majorities of Democrats (74%), independents (62%) and Republicans (56%) – as well as 59% of Tea Party supporters – say this is “very” or “extremely” important.
  • Voters understand the economic benefits of infrastructure improvement. 79% of voters agree that “in order for the United States to remain the world’s top economic superpower we need to modernize our transportation infrastructure and keep it up to date.”
  • Voters are in strong agreement with President Obama’s ideas on investment in transportation.Fully 80% of voters agree President Obama’s State of the Union statement about transportat investments, including 46% who strongly agree.

The Bottom Line: Voters of all political stripes are tired of partisan gridlock in Washington – they want leaders to work together and seek compromise to get things done for the country. They overwhelmingly say elected leaders should cooperate when it comes to transportation infrastructure, seeing improvement in this area as a way to improve the economy, make communities safer, and improve Americans’ quality of life. And while voters oppose some funding streams they widely endorse others, and they clearly see a need for reform when it comes to financing transportation projects.

Click here to read more and to download the survey’s full findings from the Rockefeller Foundation