Released Tuesday, the poll by Field Research Corp. in San Francisco found that 64% of those surveyed want another public vote on the $98-billion project and that 59% of respondents would oppose it because of changes in its cost and completion date.
The estimated price tag for the 520-mile system between San Francisco and Los Angeles is now $98 billion to $117 billion â€” at least triple the initial projection of $33 billion and over double a more recent estimate of $43 billion. Planners have extended the construction deadline from 2020 to 2033.
“If there were a revote, its chances of passage given this poll are not very good,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll.
Meanwhile in Washington, a barrage of sharp criticism was leveled at Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who appeared Tuesday at a hearing by theÂ House Transportation and Infrastructure CommitteeÂ on the Obama administration’s high-speed rail program.
Committee Chairman Rep.Â John MicaÂ (R-Fla.), who has long asserted that he supports the concept of high-speed rail, said the California project was the one hope for a true bullet train but now appears to be in “disarray.”
Voters approved the project when they passed Proposition 1A by almost 53% in November 2008. The ballot measure authorized $9 billion in state bonds to help pay for construction.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to begin work next year on a length of track between Merced and Bakersfield in the Central Valley.
Project supporters and rail officials said voters should not give up on the project because it has attracted $3 billion in federal aid, will create 100,000 jobs and will modernize California’s increasingly congested transportation networks.