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Survey Digs into Infrastructure Spend

Monday, October 26, 2015

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Are U.S. leaders taking the state of American infrastructure seriously? More than 60 percent of Americans say "no," according to a recent survey conducted by AAA.

Participants in the survey overwhelmingly indicated that maintenance and repair of roads and bridges should be a top priority for funding. Adding and expanding travel lanes ranked high as well.

“Americans rely on our nation’s roads and bridges every day, yet Congressional inaction has led to longer commutes, more potholes and unsafe conditions,” Marshall Doney, AAA president and CEO, said in the company’s announcement of its findings.


More than 60 percent of Americans say the federal government should be doing more for the nation's infrastructure, according to a recent survey conducted by AAA.

“Motorists are dissatisfied that our national leaders repeatedly have failed to meet the basic needs of drivers across the country,” he added.

According to the survey results, the majority of Americans—70 percent—believe the federal government should invest more than it does now for roads, bridges and mass transit systems.

Additionally, only 38 percent of those queried believe Congress is working to ensure that our roads, bridges and transit systems will meet the needs of the nation.

What Gets Priority?

As part of the conversation, AAA asked respondents to rank how projects should be prioritized when it comes to dispensing transportation funding.

Results showed that routine maintenance of roads and bridges topped the list, yet all categories in the survey were deemed worthy of significant support.

The rankings were as follows:

  • 91 percent said conducting routine maintenance and repair of roads and bridges, such as fixing potholes, repaving roads, etc., are important;
  • 70 percent endorsed expanding public and shared transportation, such as buses, commuter rail and support for car-pooling;
  • 67 percent gave importance to conducting traffic safety training programs on topics such as the dangers of speeding, distracted driving and driving while impaired;
  • 65 percent called for reducing traffic congestion and travel time by expanding lanes and adding lanes reserved for high-occupancy vehicles; and
  • 64 percent supported improving transportation information technology, such as automated road and traffic warning signs and route mapping software.

The study has an average statistical error of 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level for all U.S. adults, according to AAA.

Participants in the telephone survey included 1,008 adults, aged 18 or older, who live in the continental United States. The survey was conducted Sept. 10-13.

A Snapshot of U.S. Infrastructure

More than 1 in 3 major U.S. roads are in poor or inadequate condition due to inadequate funding, AAA reported. / Robert Morton
© / Robert Morton

Routine maintenance of roads and bridges topped the list of what survey respondents felt should get priority for the disbursal of federal transportation funds.

It cited a recent rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which regularly releases its Infrastructure Report Card. ASCE gave the nation’s roads a near-failing grade of D. Bridges earned a C+.

An aging system of roads and bridges threatens to harm the country’s future development, AAA writes. Businesses, factories, employers and consumers must be connected to a dependable and modern transportation network to help build and sustain a healthy economy.  

The current Highway Trust Fund requires an additional $15 billion per year to maintain a flat level of funding. Current spending only covers about one-third of our infrastructure needs, AAA says.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials are cited as saying an annual investment of $120 billion for highways and bridges between 2015 and 2020 is necessary to improve the condition and performance of the system.

Long-Term Plan Urged

AAA is among those calling for a long-term transportation law, rather than the short-term funding patches Congress has been producing. The $8 billion extension that passed in July was the 34th of its kind in the past six years. That extension is set to expire Oct. 29.

A long-term plan might be coming. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committe passed Thursday (Oct. 22) a six-year, $325 billion transportation bill that includes $261 billion for the highway system, according to an article in The Hill. However, the funding source accompanying the bill provides for just three of the six years. In order to maintain the terms of the bill, Congress must come up with the additional three years of funding to "unlock" the last three years covered, The Hill wrote.

If approved by the full House and Senate, the new bill will be the first of its kind in 10 years. However, The Hill notes, Congress likely will have to pass another short-term patch before the Oct. 29 deadline to give lawmakers time to work out the details.

Drivers Pay

According to the association, it’s motorists who pay the price for the current condition of the nation’s infrastructure, whether in the form of high repair bills for resulting vehicle damage or sitting in traffic.

U.S. drivers annually spend about $324 in additional vehicle repairs and operating costs due to poor roads and bridges, it says.

“Potholes and bad roads increase driver stress and can cause significant vehicle damage requiring costly repairs,” Doney added. “It’s time for Congress to pass long-term funding legislation that ensures our transportation system receives the maintenance necessary to get Americans to work every day.”


Tagged categories: American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE); Bridges; Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Government; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

Comment from Jerry Trevino, (10/26/2015, 8:47 AM)

Although road and bridge infrastructure is in poor condition, underground infrastructure is in worse shape. Out of sight out of mind mentality exists in politicians. Although i agree with the AAA findings, drinking water sources and transmission is in poor health, sewer collection systems, underground gas, cable, fiber optics, etc are also in poor condition. Water main breaks are daily occurrences, over burdened waste water plants are frequently dumping untreated water into creeks, streams, lakes and rivers, and the sewer collection systems are collapsing underground. Massive amounts of capital are also required to upgrade all of Americas infrastructure. Maybe a little less spending in social programs and direct more money to improving infrastructure to put more people to work.

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