Most Would Pay More for Better Highways


October 3, 2013


Everybody knows that Texans are willing to pay more to expand and maintain the Texas highway system.  A new poll provides one more confirmation.


The poll came from the Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts public forums and polls on issues affecting Texas.


Some 64% of respondents said they are willing to pay more in taxes and fees to repair and improve roads, highways and bridges.  Reflecting the crushing load of daily congestion in metro areas, the poll found 57% expressed a willingness to pay new fees and taxes to get lanes added to highways and freeways.


The survey of 1,000 Texans, including 800 registered voters, confirmed other polls in recent years that found that Texans are pretty happy with the highway system and don’t see it as a top level issue.  Respondents were asked, “What do you think is the most important issue facing the state of Texas today?”


Transportation, traffic and highway funding came in 14th on the list of things mentioned.  Education, immigration, the economy, unemployment, health care and political corruption top the list.  Gasoline prices came in at Number 8.


Only 15% of those polled said they were somewhat or very unsatisfied with the quality of roads and highways in Texas.  That is a strong reflections of historic quality of the state and local road system and of the ability of TxDOT and local communities to keep up with maintenance in areas outside the South Texas Eagle Ford Shale  zone.  That is where highway destruction by non-stop intense heavy truck traffic is widespread.


Dallas Morning News transportation writer Rodger Jones noted that the poll shows a pretty strong majority would pay for better roads.  He then observed:  “Of course, advocates for better transportation funding know that the public wants — and will pay for — quality infrastructure. The problem in getting new revenue out of the Legislature is that the naysayers in these polls tend to be dedicated GOP voters who dominate the primaries.”


The poll also found that nearly half of Texans polled about a Nov. 5 ballot proposition to spend $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund for water infrastructure projects support the measure.
Among registered voters, there was a 44 percent to 42 percent margin in favor of the water proposal. The proposal fared better when pollsters narrowed the water question to “likely voters” who are “extremely interested” in politics — pushing 49 percent in favor, compared to 36 percent opposed.


The Texas Lyceum’s 7th annual poll, which was conducted September 6 – 20 among Texas adults, shows that when it comes to transportation infrastructure, an overall majority, 64 percent, say they are willing to pay more in taxes to fix existing roads, highways and bridges. Building additional lanes on highways and roads and adding rail between cities were the second and third most popular ideas to improve the states’ transportation infrastructure.

“It seems likely that the public's willingness to spend more on transportation infrastructure is because people can see and judge the quality of roads by the nature of their commute,” said Lyceum pollster Professor Daron Shaw. “The state of water infrastructure is less obvious, so long as you can use your tap."

When it comes to driving on Texas roads, a plurality believes that other drivers texting while driving is the biggest threat to their safety – 47 percent believe texting and driving is a threat to safety while 27 percent believe drunk drivers are the greater road danger.