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The effects of a brutal winter are still lingering for Americans, even as the summer heat begins to take hold.
As a result of the winter's unforgiving cadence of snowstorms and heavy truck traffic, America's roadway infrastructure has been crumbling from California to Maine, as the state and federal dollars needed to fix the problem have come up short.
Perhaps it's the jarring that folks take commuting every day, never mind the cost of replacing tires and keeping suspensions aligned. But despite the nation's generally anti-tax mindset, a new study by AAA, which supports a federal gas tax increase, indicates U.S. motorists are "fed up" and willing to shell out a bit of cash for road repairs.
According to the survey, a full two-thirds of respondents said the federal government should increase spending on roads, bridges and mass transit systems. More than half of the survey's respondents said they would be willing to shell out money to pay higher fuel taxes if the money would be spent on improving the roads.
"Many of us are willing to pay a little more if it means we will have access to better roads, bridges and transit systems," said AAA President and CEO Bob Darbelnet.
The poll's timing was far from coincidental. Funding for the Highway Trust Fund is running short, and lawmakers need to take action before their summer recess to keep it solvent. The fund is currently supported by a tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and a tax of 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel. Congress hasn't raised the tax since 1993, despite the average cost of fuel basically tripling since then.
AAA suggests that the state of U.S. roadways already serves as a tax, of sorts, estimating the average motorist puts out about $324 annually for vehicle repairs related to bad roads. Other studies have indicated that commuters must spend more time behind the wheel, while transportation costs for consumer goods also rise as a result of slower speeds, detours and other delays.
In addition to respondents' willingness to spend more, the AAA study also found 51 percent were more likely to vote for a member of Congress who supports increased spending on transportation. That compares to just 19 percent who said they'd be less likely to support a lawmaker who took that step.
Darbelnet said Americans are "fed up" with the state of the nation's roads and the "political inaction" that has blocked needed repairs,
"It is time for our nation's leaders to stand with those in Congress who support improving our country's transportation system," he said.
The AAA study was based on responses from more than 2,000 Americans over the age of 18.