Public oppose tolls on interstates

May 21, 2014, 12:20 PM GMT+0

Most Americans oppose the proposal to allow states to begin charging tolls on interstates, even though more generally people support using tolls to fund road repair and construction

The days of the open road may be coming to an end. Currently you can drive most of the 46,876 mile long interstate system without paying any tolls, but the White House has backed a proposal that would allow states to start charging tolls on these roads. States are currently prohibited from charging tolls on interstates, except where existing toll roads were incorporated into the interstate system. But an infrastructure funding crisis, coupled with a reluctance to raise gas taxes, has prompted government officials to begin thinking the previously unthinkable.

The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans (56%) oppose allowing states to charge tolls on federal interstate highways, though 29% do support it. For once, this isn't even a partisan issue - only just under a third of both Democrats and Republicans support the measure, and both tend to oppose it.

Asked what the best way is to pay for road repairs and construction, however, road tolls were actually rather popular, coming in third place (44%) after vehicle registration fees (47%) and gas taxes (47%). Support for funding roads out of more general taxes – such as sales taxes, income taxes or property taxes – is much lower, with only around a fifth of Americans supporting raising revenue in these ways.

Congress hasn't increased the gas tax since 1993, often citing public sensitivity to gas taxes, but the public may not be as resolutely opposed to higher gas taxes as politicians expect. YouGov research from April 2014 shows that most Americans (58%) would support paying an extra penny a gallon in gas tax to fund road repairs and construction.

Full poll results can be found here.

Image: Getty