Californians uneasy about rail project, water bond -survey
SAN FRANCISCO, March 21
SAN FRANCISCO, March 21 (Reuters) - Fewer than half of likely voters in California favor building a planned $68 billion high-speed rail system and support an $11.1 billion water bond scheduled for the state's 2014 ballot, according to results of a survey released on Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California.
The survey found 43 percent of likely voters supporting the rail project, approved by voters in 2008 when they endorsed a bond measure that would provide nearly $10 billion in general obligation bond financing for the project, and 54 percent opposed.
"When those who are opposed are asked how they would feel if the cost were lower, overall support rises to 55 percent," a statement by the institute said.
California officials on Monday approved the sale of $8.6 billion in bonds to help build the rail system, which is intended to link the most populous U.S. state's far-flung metropolitan areas.
Planners are also counting on federal funds and money from the private sector for the massive project. Construction of its first leg is scheduled to begin later this year in the state's Central Valley.
Support for the water bond stands 42 percent of likely voters while 51 percent oppose it.
"When those who plan to vote 'no' are asked how they would vote if the bond were a smaller amount, overall support increases to 55 percent," the institute's statement said.
California's leaders last year removed the water bond from last November's ballot in order to put it to a statewide vote in 2014, marking the second time they postponed it.
The measure for the bond was painstakingly crafted in 2009 under former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to address environmental concerns and the needs of residential water users as the state's farming industry.
The institute's survey findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,138 California adult residents interviewed on landlines and cell phones from March 5-12 in English or Spanish, according to respondents' preferences. The sampling error is plus or minus 4.6 percent.
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