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72% of Americans Support Tolling as a Highway Funding Option: HNTB

By: 
Bill Cramer

A decisive 72% of Americans would willingly pay tolls if there were no other way to fund critical or needed transportation projects, according to a survey commissioned by HNTB Corporation and reported last month by ITS International.

The research “also found that more than three in four (77%) Americans would prefer tolls and mileage-based user fees rather than higher gas taxes to pay for infrastructure needs over the next 10 years,” ITS reports. “Of this group, 45% would prefer using tolls while 32% would support mileage-based user fees. Only 23% would like to use higher gas taxes for this purpose.”

The results show that tolling has gradually earned Americans’ confidence and support as an option for funding safe, reliable mobility.

“We’ve known for a long time that when people begin using toll roads or managed lanes, they learn to like them a lot,” said IBTTA Executive Director and CEO Pat Jones. “Familiarity definitely leads to acceptance, and this survey helps prove our point that tolling is an essential tool in the transportation funding toolbox. The HNTB findings relate as well to IBTTA’s recently released report, Toll Technology Transforms Mobility for Customers, that highlights the impact technology is having on the transportation and tolling industry. The report includes numerous stats, including an increase of 19.3 million electronic transponders on America's roads between 2010 and 2015.”

Getting to Know Your Toll Road

In the HNTB survey, 61% of respondents said they had used a toll road in the last year, and the overwhelming majority—81%—could think of at least one thing to like about them. The list of positives included improving the safety of highways and reducing congestion or obstructions. Other reasons included adding capacity of additional lanes to improve a section of existing highway and adding transit that supports nearby rail or bus systems.

It’s fair enough to note that 19% of respondents were firmly against tolling existing highway capacity.

But seriously—when’s the last time you heard 81% of voters agreeing on whether to rename a post office, much less reaching consensus on an essential funding tool for an irreplaceable class of infrastructure?

For good measure, “the survey also found 43% of Americans believe it is appropriate to toll new general-purpose interstate highway lanes when these additional lanes are added as priced managed lanes to help reduce congestion,” the survey showed.

The survey, the latest in HNTB’s America THINKS series, polled a random national sample of 1,022 Americans from July 21-28, 2016.

For the latest on managed lanes, read the Thematic Report, a summary of IBTTA’s Summit on All-Electronic Tolling, Managed Lanes and Interoperability, held July 24-26, 2016 in Boston.