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Tolling Points

83% of Americans Support Tolls to Improve Existing Highways

By: 
Bill Cramer

More than four-fifths of Americans would endorse tolling on existing highways, including existing interstates, according to the latest America THINKS poll, released this week by HNTB Corporation during IBTTA’s 82nd Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Austin, TX.

“Most Americans and most drivers back tolls for making roads—even existing interstates—safer, less congested and more reliable,” HNTB reported. And in Texas, nearly three-quarters of drivers who regularly used tolled roads are bridges “are pleased with the value they received for the fare paid.”

In two separate surveys—one national, the other for the State of Texas—HNTB found that 83% of Americans would support tolling for at least one of several reasons:

  • 52% to improve safety on the interstates
  • 51% to make local roads safer
  • 45% to clear congestion
  • 42% to improve safety on the road being tolled
  • 39% to add interstate capacity.

And regular users of interstate highways said they value a quality highway system.

  • 93% appreciate quality pavement
  • 92% expect ease of access
  • 89% value reliable travel times
  • 87% want clear signage.

Survey respondents were split on the fairest way to calculate a toll, with roughly equal proportions supporting point-to-point tolls (25%), managed lanes (23%), time-of-day pricing (23%), dynamic pricing (22%), and cordon pricing (21%).

In Texas, HNTB said nearly three-quarters of respondents “could be influenced to use toll roads more” if it meant reaching their destination more quickly, by boosting reliability (73%) or avoiding traffic (71%). A similar proportion (72%) said tolling agencies should fine drivers or put them on probation for skipping tolls, while 55% said agencies should collect fines from offenders.

“On average, those who think fines should be collected say a fine of $34 sounds about right,” according to an HNTB summary of the data.

“Tolling is becoming the solution of choice for generating additional user-based transportation revenue,” said HNTB Senior Vice President Jim Ely. “It’s a proven source of funding that’s being seriously considered for expanded use by cities, states, and even the federal government, with support from elected officials across the political spectrum.”

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