Approximately 80 percent of Americans say having safe, efficient and well-maintained transportation infrastructure is at least, if not more, important to our personal livelihood and well-being than good cable, cell phone, internet, water, sewage, and household electricity and natural gas services. Not surprisingly, given the importance Americans place on transportation assets, 74 percent of us agree that “investing in transportation infrastructure should be a core function of the federal government.”
Those are key findings of a first-ever national poll conducted by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association to see how valuable Americans think our road and transit network is to the nation, our everyday life, and relative to other modern necessities we routinely rely upon. The poll found Americans place a high value on good roads and public transit because:
- 78 percent say driving a motor vehicle is “very” or “extremely” important to our ability to conduct our daily lives. Twenty-one percent (including 34 percent of low income respondents) say the same about using public transportation.
- 88 percent say transportation infrastructure is important to maintaining a strong U.S. economy.
- 83 percent say our transportation network is important in ensuring national defense and emergency response capabilities.
But here’s the disconnect that explains why many of us are suffering from traffic congestion and the outcomes from less than optimal system upkeep. Asked the question how much their household pays each month in gas taxes, 40 percent of respondents say they don’t know. In fact, according to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) data, the average U.S. household paid $46 per month in gas taxes in 2011, the most current year available.
U.S. Commerce Department 2011 data indicates that the average household spends about $160 each month for electricity and natural gas; $161, on average, for landline and cell phone service; and nearly $124 per month for cable and satellite television, radio and internet access.
We have 65,000 structurally deficient bridges that are being crossed 249 million times every day – and in fact, at press time, one in the state of Washington just fell into a river – yet we pay next to nothing for repair and construction of safe highways. That has to change.
Mark S. Kuhar, editor
Member: Construction Writers Association