Americans would rather spend an hour at the dentist than stuck in a traffic jam, but they'd prefer a 5% raise over a shorter commute by a ratio of 3 to 1.

That was one conclusion that can be drawn from the results of a national survey conducted on behalf of Building America's Future, a coalition of city, county, and state elected officials seeking to influence federal investment in infrastructure. Designed as part of an overall strategy to eliminate earmarks from the process of dispersing federal funds, the survey shows that Democrats and Republicans equally support higher taxes if projects are completed on time and on budget and they can see exactly how and where their money's being spent.

Virtually all respondents -- 98% -- agree that Americans have the right to safe travel on roads, railways, and runways.

The mid-December survey of 800 voters shows that 94% are concerned about the nation's infrastructure. Energy facilities are their top concern among 12 categories, with roads and highways coming in second and clean water third. Bridges and dams/levees ranked below the electricity grid, school buildings, and mass transit but above broadband Internet access, passenger rail, airports, and bike paths.

Almost half of respondents - 40% -- say they'll know that investment in infrastructure is paying off when the economy starts getting better. Thirteen percent say it's when infrastructure is "significantly better" than when improvement programs began. Seven percent say it's when infrastructure systems are "green," and 5% when traffic is "significantly reduced."

The coalition is urging lawmakers to develop and require Congress to implement a process that gives decision-making authority to cities and counties rather than states and federal agencies. One concept being bandied about is the formation of a type of national review board that would evaluate proposed projects on merit and job creation; projects that don't begin on deadline would lose funding.

Another suggestion is to make infrastructure funding part of the federal government's capital budget.

For detailed survey results, go to