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Poll: How to pay for roads divides Americans

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 2:12 am •  Published: August 5, 2014

Congress has kept federal highway and transit programs limping along for the past six years, unable to decide how best to pay for them. Lawmakers' indecision mirrors what The Associated Press and GfK found in a recent opinion survey. Some results:

—Six in 10 Americans think the economic benefits of good highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers. Among those who drive places multiple times per week, 62 percent say the benefits outweigh the costs. Among those who drive less than once a week or not at all, 55 percent say the costs of road improvement are worthwhile.

—Older Americans are most likely to see a benefit to quality transportation, 66 percent of seniors and 63 percent between ages 50 and 64 compared with 55 percent of those under age 50.

— A majority, 58 percent, opposes raising federal gasoline taxes to fund improvements to roads and bridges or maintenance of public roads. Majorities of drivers oppose raising the gas tax regardless of how often they drive, 61 percent among daily drivers, 60 percent among those who drive less often. Only 14 percent of all adults support raising the gas tax.

—Majorities of both Democrats and Republicans oppose raising the gas tax, with Republicans most apt to oppose an increase — 70 percent compared with 52 percent of Democrats. Conservative Republicans are the most likely to oppose such a shift, 75 percent compared with 61 percent among moderate or liberal Republicans. There's an even larger rift among Democrats by ideology. Among moderate or conservative Democrats, 16 percent support the change, 58 percent oppose it, while among liberal Democrats, 33 percent support it compared with 40 percent who oppose that step.

—By better than a 2-to-1 margin, Americans oppose having private companies pay for construction of new roads and bridges in exchange for the right to charge tolls. Opposition increases with frequency of driving, with 49 percent opposed among those who drive multiple times in a week compared with 38 percent among those who drive once a week or less.

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