Salt Lake County residents are about evenly divided on whether the Utah Transit Authority should buy the Union Pacific right-of-way for a light-rail system.

That's the conclusion of a KSL/Deseret News poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates Inc.Jones polled only Salt Lake County residents in a survey that involved 256 people. Conducted Dec. 7-10, the poll has a margin of error of approximately plus or minus 7 percent.

Asked if they would favor spending $18 million for the right-of-way if the federal government would reimburse the cost, 47 percent of the respondents said yes, while 48 percent said no. Five percent didn't know.

Asked if they favored construction of a light-rail system if such construction did not require a tax increase, 58 percent said yes, while 37 percent said no. Six percent didn't know.

Questioned as to whether the Utah Transit Authority should continue developing plans for a light-rail system to be financed with existing revenues, 53 percent said yes, while 43 percent said no. Given the 7 percent margin of error, the result is inconclusive. Four percent didn't know.

Salt Lake County voters turned thumbs down on a Nov. 3 referendum that proposed a quarter-cent sales tax increase to finance a bus/light-rail/I-15 transportation package.

Fifty-six percent of the voters said no, while 43 percent said yes.

The proposal would have nearly doubled UTA's bus fleet, made some improvements on certain I-15 interchanges and built a 15-mile light-rail system linking Sandy to downtown Salt Lake City.

It also would have created a series of hubs connecting the bus system to the train and many new bus routes.

Currently, UTA is contemplating buying the corridor despite the referendum defeat. Tentative plans call for a final decision on Jan. 13.

However, the Interstate Commerce Commission also must decide whether it would classify UTA as a railroad, which could sour the sale.

(poll)

Deseret News poll

Would you favor or oppose the Utah Transit Authority purchasing the right-of-way for a light-rail system from the Union Pacific Railroad at a cost of $18 million, which would be reimbursed by the federal government?

Favor 47%

Oppose 48%

Don't know 5%

Sample size: 256 Error: +/- 7%

Conducted Dec. 7-10, 1992 Deseret News

Conducted by Dan Jones & Associates