Americans Want Transportation System Improvement, System Resiliency during Weather Emergencies, Survey Says

AASHTO Journal, 7 February 2014

According to the results of a survey by HNTB, most Americans want to see improvement in the nation’s transportation network, especially in the areas of better overall connectivity and resiliency during future severe weather.

In its most recent America THINKS survey, HNTB sought views from the public on “the country’s current and future mobility trends.” HNTB asked Americans to report which transportation modes are in most need of repair and/or innovation, when they believe infrastructure improvements are made, what modes of transportation people take, how their transportation routine might change if “local mobility were seamless,” and how our transportation system should look 20 years from now.

“The United States has seen a period of immense economic growth and potential that has grown out of investments made in the nation’s transportation system over the last six decades. Today the returns on that investment are diminished rapidly due to congestion, failing roads, bridges and transit rails,” said Pete Rahn, HNTB leader transportation practice, in a statement. “Yet we haven’t found a compelling vision that will drive future state and federal investments and spur even more future growth.”

The survey found that 90 percent of survey respondents believe at least one mode of transportation in the U.S. needs innovation to move forward, while 93 percent believe at least one mode is in need of repair. Roads topped the list of what is in most need of repair (36 percent) while rail was named the number one transportation mode that would benefit from innovation (26 percent). Survey respondents also expressed a desire to prepare transportation infrastructure for future weather events. Sixty-five percent of respondents fear that a local infrastructure failure will occur within a year, while 95 percent believe it is important to rebuild infrastructure to survive “increasingly intense weather patterns.” While most respondents traveled by car (88 percent), many would change that if “local mobility were seamless.” More than half (57 percent) said they would take public transit more often, the same number that reported they would drive less. Forty-two percent said they would walk more. When looking to the future, survey respondents reported that they wanted to see less reliance on cars, additional green travel options, 24/7 public transit, automated transportation for safety purposes, and high-speed rail systems.

The HNTB America THINKS mobility survey includes results from more than 1,150 people over the age of 18 contacted via email and phone between Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, 2013.

A summary of the survey results is available here. AASHTO Journal coverage on other America THINKS surveys, such as feelings on transit and tolling, is available here and here.

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