Beyond new roads and bridges
PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to compare public preferences for investment and spending on non-automobile infrastructures (mass transit and bicycling) to preferences for new roads and the repair of current highways. The study explores the factors that explain preferences for non-automobile infrastructure using a three-factor model including self-interest (personal transportation benefits), concern for community-wide benefits (political beliefs), and concern for the economic impact. The study uses a case study of the urban context of the Hampton Roads region of Southeastern Virginia (USA).Design/methodology/approachThe analysis uses data from a 2013 telephone survey of urban residents in the Hampton Roads area. Survey respondents were asked to identify their two investment priorities from four options: repairing existing roads, bridges, and tunnels; constructing new or expanding roads, bridges, and tunnels; expanding mass transit; and expanding bicycle routes and improving bike safety.FindingsRepairing existing highway infrastructure is the most popular spending priority (66 percent of residents). There is as much support (46 percent) for investing in non-automobile infrastructure as for investing in new roads, bridges, and tunnels. Significant predictors of support for non-automobile infrastructure, using the three-factor model, are: length of commute time, self-identification as liberal, use of light rail, and a belief that light rail contributes to economic development.Originality/valueThe study examines public preferences for both non-traditional and traditional transportation infrastructure investments. It highlights the factors that contribute to public support for different transportation spending options.