A strong majority of California voters now oppose the planned Anaheim-to-San Francisco high-speed rail project, according to Field Poll results reported Tuesday by the Sacramento Bee.
The primary reason is cost estimates. They’ve escalated from $42 billion when voters were asked to approve the plan in 2008 to $98 billion today.
From the Bee story:
Opposition to the multibillion-dollar project crosses party lines and includes more than a third of voters who previously favored the state’s plan to build a high-speed rail system …
… Nearly two-thirds of voters, or 64 percent, want the Legislature to call for a re-vote, according to the poll. If such an election were held, 59 percent of voters say they would reject the $9.9 billion bond package Californians approved three years ago, the poll found.
Pluralities of Democrats, Republicans and independents oppose the project, according to the poll.
The poll comes at a particularly critical time for managers of the high-speed rail project. As Voice of OC reported Tuesday, the plan faces a September deadline to break ground or lose $3 billion in federal stimulus funds.
At the same time, high-speed rail critics have besieged the program with an arsenal of legal and policy weapons and are primed to move in for the kill.
A lawsuit and opinion from the Legislative Analyst’s Office argue the project isn’t entitled to any of the $9 billion in state funds approved by voters because it doesn’t meet requirements set out in the 2008 law.
But the project needs at least $3 billion is state funds to match the federal allocation and begin construction in the Central Valley.
— TRACY WOOD