A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Thursday revealed New Jerseyans' strong opposition to a gas tax increase drops off when they're told the revenue would be used to fix roads and bridges.

(Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media NJ)

The top lawmaker in the General Assembly believes this is very encouraging news.

"We have a problem," said Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus). "Our road infrastructure is crumbling. It's deteriorating and this year with the bad weather, potholes are everywhere. I think once you get that education component, I think they (residents) understand that the need is there."

Prieto supports a gas tax hike of some type, but only if the revenue is dedicated solely to repairing roads and bridges. The Rutgers-Eagleton survey showed when forced to pick between a higher gas tax and borrowing money for the repairs, almost 4-in-10 Garden State residents who initially opposed the idea actually expressed a willingness to raise the tax.

"If you actually have a good road infrastructure, your travel time will be less, you'll get there quicker, you'll use less gas," Prieto said. "If you get one blown-out tire, that's much more than you're going to pay on the gas tax in a whole year."

According to Prieto, borrowing money for road and bridge repair is another form of taxation, but it means your children and grandchildren will be the ones paying it.

Gov. Chris Christie has repeatedly said he is opposed to any tax increases.