Road maintenance still the focus of public opinion

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Sponsored by: Department of Land Use and Transportation, Administrative Services/Office of the Director Division

Recent telephone and web-based public opinion studies about transportation priorities in Washington County both emphasize the same conclusion: Maintain our roads and avoid future costs.

The non-scientific web-based study also showed that the public thinks a local vehicle registration fee is a good way to avoid future maintenance costs. The web-based findings were presented to the Board of County Commissioners today by the independent public opinion firm of DHM Research, Inc.

In a scientific telephone survey of 400 randomly selected residents commissioned by Washington County this April, 65 percent of respondents gave the highest rating to the statement “maintain existing roads and highways” at eight or higher on a 10-point scale of importance when compared with other transportation funding priorities. “Use technology to improve traffic flow” was the next highest-rated option at 55 percent. The margin of error for this part of the survey was plus or minus 2.9 percent.

Similar results were found when these same transportation improvement options were asked this July of 940 participants of Westside Voices and Opt In, two web-based venues for public engagement also administered by DHM. “Maintain existing roads and highways” led the list again with an eight-or-higher rating from 79 percent of respondents. “Use technology to improve traffic flow” was once again the second highest.

Web respondents gave high marks to the idea of using a local vehicle registration fee to address deferred road maintenance. When asked to rate the importance of various statements describing how the registration fee might be used, 82 percent gave a rating of eight or more to a statement about maintaining roads “before it will cost more for improvements.” Once again, the topic of technological updates – specifically for moving traffic more efficiently – took the second-highest position within this portion of the questionnaire. 

“This was a great opportunity to compare a scientific poll with an unscientific poll,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Andy Duyck. “It will give us greater trust in Westside Voices for the future.”

County and city officials are being briefed on the public opinion research as part of a broader discussion about transportation funding options, including a locally applied vehicle registration fee dedicated to road maintenance or improvements only. Oregon law allows Washington, Multnomah and Clackamas counties to levy a vehicle registration fee of no more than $43 per year and 40 percent of the funds must be shared with cities to maintain or improve roads. If Washington County officials adopt a yet to be determined vehicle registration fee, it would be used only for maintenance and improvements on both county and city roads.

More information on a potential vehicle registration fee can be found at

Clean Water Services and Washington County partnered to launch Westside Voices earlier this year to provide residents with a on-line means for making their opinions known about various topics and issues affecting the community. Any resident of Washington County over the age of 13 may sign up by visiting Individually identifiable responses are kept confidential.




Washington County is committed to planning and protecting the uses of the land and to building and maintaining the best transportation system -- balancing care for the natural environment, economic development, safety and community livability.



Media Contact:

Stephen Roberts, Communications Coordinator