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WTOP Beltway Poll: 2/3 support wider highways

Monday - 3/5/2012, 7:46am  ET

Tysons Metro Dulles Rail Route 7 (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
The Dulles Rail Project that's under construction is seen along busy Route 7 in Tysons Corner. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

WASHINGTON - Nearly two-thirds of people in the Washington area believe highways in the region should be widened, and there also is very strong support for expanding mass transit, according to a WTOP Beltway Poll.

The survey, conducted by Heart+Mind Strategies, indicates commuters want a broad approach to dealing with the region's growth and traffic problems.

Asked whether they agree with the growth strategy of widening existing regional highways, 65 percent percent say they favor the idea. There is little difference among residents of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. on that issue.

But the region is more divided on whether to build new regional highways. Fifty-one percent agree with that growth strategy, while 48 percent oppose it.

The greatest opposition to building new regional highways comes from the District at 59 percent. The most support comes from Virginia, 56 percent. Forty-nine percent of Maryland residents support the idea, and 49 percent oppose it.

There is virtually universal support for expanding public transportation options. Ninety-one percent support the idea. Nine of 10 residents also think walkable neighborhoods should be encouraged, and 9 of 10 believe jobs should be located closer to where people live.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.

The D.C. metro phone survey was conducted among 551 adults age 18 and over, between Feb. 20, 2011 and Feb. 23, 2011. This included representative samples of 200 people in Virginia, 251 in Maryland and 100 in the District.

Heart+Mind Strategies is a non-partisan market research consultancy based in Reston, Va.

WTOP's Mitchell Miller contributed to this report. Follow Mitchell and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)