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Public Opinion Surveys Show More Travelers Satisfied with Major Highways

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Public Opinion Surveys Show More Travelers Satisfied with Major Highways

Federal Highway Administration
March 20, 2001

Tuesday, March 20, 2001
Contact: Michael Thoryn
Tel.: 202-366-0660
FHWA 11-01

Data Also Show Congestion, Community as Top Concerns

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced the release of a report that shows a 15 percent increase in the number of travelers who are satisfied with major highways in the United States.

The report, Moving Ahead: The American Public Speaks on Roadways and Transportation in Communities, shows that 65 percent of highway travelers are satisfied with the major highways they travel most often. This represents an increase of 15 percentage points since completion of a similar 1995 study by the National Partnership for Highway Quality (NPHQ), formerly the National Quality Initiative.

Increases in traveler satisfaction were found in areas such as pavement conditions, safety, bridge conditions, visual appeal, and travel amenities. The survey also identified safety as an area of importance to the public.

Although most people are satisfied with the overall condition of the highway system, the findings from the 2000 survey point to several areas that require attention. About 20 percent of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the highway system. This is a six percentage point increase since the 1995 survey.

Travelers want more improvements to traffic flow, continued improvements in pavement conditions and more effective ways to deal with or to decrease traffic congestion in work zones. Citizens also want highway projects that are more sensitive to local communities and transportation enhancements in their communities such as transit services and bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

In addition, maintenance response time emerged as an area of concern that should be monitored for opportunities for improvement. Travelers also want transportation agencies to maintain the excellent existing quality of items such as visual appeal and travel amenities.

Visitors to national parks and national forests were very satisfied with access to and within these areas and expressed a desire for improving driving safety, primarily through providing more roadway signs and pavement markings.

The findings regarding highway conditions correspond with data from the FHWA’s most recent report on the physical condition of the highway system. Recent FHWA highway condition and performance data indicate that the percentage of miles on the National Highway System with acceptable ride quality increased from 90 percent in 1995 to 93 percent in 1999. In addition, the number of deficient bridges declined from 26 percent of the total in 1995 to 23 percent in 1999.

The report is a compilation of several nationwide surveys conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the FHWA. During the surveys, respondents were asked questions dealing with topics ranging from condition of highways to traffic congestion and on how well they thought highways serve communities. In addition, visitors to six national parks and six national forests were surveyed about their thoughts on the roads in those areas.

The survey is posted on the Internet at www.fhwa.dot.gov. Additional data from the survey are available at www.bts.gov/omnibus.

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