Rockefeller Foundation Infrastructure Survey Reveals Bipartisan Support for Transportation and Infrastructure Investments and Reform

Four in five voters agree that federal funding to improve and modernize transportation will boost local economies and create jobs

February 14, 2011

Rockefeller Foundation leverages $66 million transportation initiative to promote equitable and sustainable transportation policies

New York, NY, February 14, 2011 – An exclusive Rockefeller Foundation survey released today reveals overwhelming bipartisan support for federal investment in transportation and infrastructure projects.

The survey showed that 71% of voters think leaders in Washington should seek common ground on legislation related to roads, bridges and transit systems, including 66% of Tea Party supporters and 71% of Republicans.  Two out of three voters say that improving the country’s transportation infrastructure is highly important. Nearly half of all voters said that roads are often or totally inadequate and that only some public transportation options exist.  Eighty percent of voters agree that federal funding to improve and modernize transportation will boost local economies and create millions of jobs, and view it as critical to keeping the United States as the world’s top economic superpower.

But Americans want changes in the way the Federal government invests in infrastructure and makes policy. Two-thirds of respondents favored 9 of 10 reforms tested in the survey, with 90 supporting more accountability and certification that projects are delivered on time and fit into a national plan. In terms of priorities, a vast majority (80 percent) believe the country would benefit from an expanded and improved public transportation system and 57 percent believe that “safer streets for our communities and children” should be the one of the top two priorities if more money is to be invested in infrastructure.

The Rockefeller Foundation funded this survey as part of the Foundation’s Transportation initiative, a $66 million investment aimed at promoting equitable and sustainable transportation policies at the federal and state level.  Through this investment, the Foundation is committed to the development of policies that provide access to opportunity, more transportation options and help create vibrant and healthy communities, all while increasing access to good jobs for lower income Americans.

“Half a century ago, Americans built an interstate highway system that enabled unrivaled economic prosperity and opportunity, said Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin.  “Today, almost half of Americans think that their transportation options and roads are inadequate.  The Rockefeller Foundation Infrastructure Survey shows that American voters want Washington to work together to pass laws that ensure we fix the infrastructure we have and provide more Americans with more transportation options befitting a 21st century economic power.”

This Rockefeller Foundation Infrastructure Survey highlights 4 key findings:

  1. American voters see improvement in transportation infrastructure as a way to improve the economy and their quality of life: With federal unemployment rates hovering at 9%, Americans feel that improvements to transportation and infrastructure will create millions of jobs – eight in ten voters think transportation and infrastructure will boost local economies and create jobs including 64% of Tea Party supporters and 66% of Republicans.
  2. American voters are looking for consensus and cooperation in Washington: Americans want their elected officials to work together, especially around the issue of transportation and infrastructure (66% of voters say this is a time where they would like leaders in Washington to make compromises and seek common ground).  More than any other issue tested, American voters would like to see compromise on legislation related to transportation and infrastructure (71%).
  3. American voters see room for improvement in how government spends money on infrastructure:  With a high federal deficit, Americans overwhelmingly say that that current government spending on building and maintaining transportation infrastructure is inefficient and unwise – 64% overall and 72% of Republicans.  Americans support a host of reforms aimed at making spending more efficient while still producing results. For instance, 90% support allowing local regions to have some input on how transportation dollars are used in their area.
  4. American voters are open to several funding streams for national transportation projects:With overwhelming support for transportation and infrastructure improvements, Americans are open to several funding streams.  Seventy-eight percent encourage more private investment and 72% of voters support imposing penalties on projects that go over budget or exceed their deadline.  Sixty percent of voters support establishing a National Infrastructure Bank, 59% support issuing new transportation bonds and 58% support eliminating subsidies for American oil companies that drill in other countries. Only 27 percent support increasing the gas tax, although almost half of all respondents believe it increases annually (it has not increased since 1993).

“As the transportation debate in Washington begins to heat up, this new Rockefeller Foundation Infrastructure Survey shows that the American people, no matter their political party, support transportation and infrastructure reform, said Marcia L. Hale, President of Building America’s Future Education Fund.  “As voters continue to demand that economic reforms come ahead of politics, I call on all our representatives in Washington to listen closely to what the public is saying.”

Survey Methodology: From January 29 to February 6, 2011, Hart Research (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) conducted a national survey of voters on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation.  The firms interviewed 1,001 registered voters, including 200 voters who have only a cell phone.  The data’s margin of error is +/-3.1 percentage points for the full sample, and a higher for subgroups of the sample.

The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation fosters innovative solutions to many of the world’s most pressing challenges, affirming its mission, since 1913, to “promote the well-being” of humanity. Today, the Foundation works to ensure that more people can tap into the benefits of globalization while strengthening resilience to its risks. Foundation initiatives include efforts to mobilize an agricultural revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa, bolster economic security for American workers, inform equitable, sustainable transportation policies in the United States, ensure access to affordable and high-quality health systems in developing countries, accelerate the impact investing industry’s evolution, and develop strategies and services that help vulnerable communities cope with the impacts of climate change.  For more information, please visit



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