GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – Motorists say New Jersey roads and bridges are in bad shape and should be fixed. But only a minority are willing to personally pay more for road work, preferring federal funding to repair infrastructure, according to a Stockton University Poll released today.
In the poll of 632 New Jersey adults, 80% rated the condition of the state’s roads and highways as fair (45%) or poor (35%). Respondents rated the condition of New Jersey’s bridges and tunnels only a little better, with 63% rating them as fair (43%) or poor (20%). Thirty-eight percent said they have felt concern for their safety when traveling over a bridge or through a tunnel.
Nearly half say poor road conditions have cost them money in repairs, with 46% saying their car sustained a flat tire or other damage because of a pothole in the last three years. Thirty-one percent called potholes the greatest hazard on the state’s roads.
The Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University interviewed 632 adult residents of New Jersey in this poll. Live interviewers called landline and cell telephones March 21-28. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points.
Strong majorities believe leaders in Washington should do more about the problem. Sixty-two percent said President Donald Trump is not paying enough attention to the conditions of roads, bridges and tunnels, while 22% said he is and 15% were unsure.
But the president fared better than Congress; 76% said leaders in Congress were not paying enough attention to infrastructure concerns, while 13% said they are, and 10% were unsure. Researcher John Froonjian of the Hughes Center said the results are consistent with abysmally low ratings of Congress in previous Stockton Polls.
New Jersey adults would overwhelmingly support a federal infrastructure bill discussed in Washington that would spend up to $200 billion, according to the poll. Eighty percent said they would support it, with 10% opposed and 9% unsure. However, when asked whether they personally were willing to pay more to help finance construction projects for roads and bridges, 48% said no, while 45% said they would be willing and 7% were unsure.
“New Jersey is a very high-tax state, and taxpayers already feel that they are tapped out,” said Michael W. Klein, interim executive director of the Hughes Center. “The state’s gas tax increased over 27 cents per gallon between 2016 and 2018, and the congestion pricing plan for driving into New York City, recently approved under New York State’s new budget, will make commuting for many New Jerseyans more expensive than ever when it is implemented.”
The percentage in support of a federal infrastructure bill dropped to 55% if the bill would increase the federal debt.
So how to fund infrastructure repairs? Among those willing to pay more to improve road and bridge conditions, one-third would support higher tolls, including increased tolls on existing toll roads (21%) or charging new tolls on New Jersey roads that do not have them (13%). Eighteen percent supported a higher gasoline tax, while 20% would increase other taxes such as the state’s sales or income taxes. Only 5% wanted more government debt.
While poor road conditions were seen as dangerous by many, the most respondents (49%) said distracted drivers posed the greatest hazard on the road. A majority of 55% said New Jersey drivers generally drive too fast. Six percent said they drive too slowly, while 35% said most drive at appropriate speeds. However, there was little appetite for greater enforcement of anti-speeding laws: 53% wanted no change in enforcement levels, and 6% wanted less enforcement. Forty percent would like stricter enforcement of speed limits.
Eighty-four percent of respondents said they drive more than 10 mph over the speed limit at least occasionally, with 39% reporting they speed very or somewhat often. Otherwise, motorists rate themselves as careful drivers. Only 9% said they are distracted when they drive very or somewhat often, and the same percentage admitted to driving too aggressively very or somewhat often. Eleven percent said they have frequently made rude gestures at other drivers, and 7% said they have felt road rage. Hardly anyone – 1% – said they ran stop signs or traffic lights very or somewhat often, while 17% said they do so occasionally.
Finally, many see traffic as the bane of New Jersey driving. Ten percent identified it as the greatest road hazard, and 56% (60% in North Jersey) said it poses a major inconvenience (23%) or a serious problem (33%). Thirty-seven percent called it a minor inconvenience.
For full poll results, go to Poll Results