With nearly half saying their car has suffered damage recently due to a pothole, most New Jersey motorists in a new poll say the state's roads and bridges are in bad shape and should be fixed.

According to a Stockton University Poll released Tuesday, 80 percent of New Jersey adults rate the condition of the state's roads as fair (45%) or poor (35%). Respondents give somewhat better marks to New Jersey's bridges and tunnels, with 63% rating them as fair (43%) or poor (20%).

"Thirty-eight percent of them felt concerned for their safety when traveling over a bridge or through a tunnel," said Michael Klein, interim executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton.

And the seemingly bad conditions are hitting travelers' wallets. Forty-six percent of respondents said their car sustained a flat tire or other damage because of a pothole in the last three years.

An overwhelming majority of New Jersey drivers said leaders in Congress (76%) and President Donald Trump (62%) are not paying enough attention to the condition of roads, bridges and tunnels.

"There's a great frustration with the federal government ... A lot of rhetoric around an infrastructure bill that just hasn't happened," Klein said.

Eighty percent of New Jersey adults would support a federal infrastructure bill discussed in Washington that would devote to $200 billion to the cause, according to the poll.

When asked whether they were willing to part ways with their own money to help finance improvement projects, 48 percent said no and 45 percent said yes.

"I think people feel that infrastructure is a government responsibility," said researcher John Froonjian with the Hughes Center. "So why are you asking me, who already pays a lot of taxes, to reach into my pocket and pay more to do a job that I expect government to do?"

Among those willing to pay more in return for improved bridge and road conditions, one-third said they'd support higher tolls. Eighteen percent gave the thumbs up to a higher gasoline tax, which has risen by more than 27 cents per gallon in New Jersey since 2016. One in five would increase other taxes such as the state's sales or income taxes if it meant safer roads and bridges.

According to a report released April 1 by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, 8.1% of New Jersey's 6,746 bridges are classified as structurally deficient (one of the key elements is in poor or worse condition). Forty of the structurally deficient bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.

The Stockton poll interviewed 632 New Jersey adults by phone from March 21 through March 28.

Earlier this month, the Murphy Administration announced $161.25 worth of grants headed to 537 towns and cities across the state, to help them advance road, bridge, safety and quality-of-life projects.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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