Most residents in Salt Lake City say there ought to be another vote on a proposal to build a commuter light rail between the downtown area and Sandy.

And most support the proposition.That's according to a Deseret News/KSL November survey by Dan Jones & Associates of 600 residents, which found 60 percent favoring light rail but 72 percent agreeing another referendum is in order.

Twenty-nine percent said they were opposed.

In 1992, voters defeated by a 57- to 43-percent margin a Salt Lake County quarter-cent sales-tax increase to pay for the proposed project, which according to Utah Transit Authority projections would carry 14,000 people a day at its inception in the year 2000 and 21,000 by 2010. Light rail has been endorsed by virtually every local government and every planning agency along the Wasatch Front, and is touted as one solution to increasingly crowded conditions on urban I-15, itself set for a massive rebuild through Salt Lake County.

UTA has been nothing if not persistent in pursuing its light-rail vision. This year it wrangled a written promise out of the U.S. Department of Transportation in which the federal government agreed to pay 80 percent of the cost of what UTA says will be a $300 million price tag.

That development is key to the agency's current push.

UTA says it can pay for its 20 percent out of current revenues and bonding, avoiding the kind of tax-increase infusion that doomed the proposal at the ballot box three years ago.

Bill Barnes, UTA's chief lobbyist, said the survey results were predictable, noting they mirror a number of polls taken in the past two years.

The 1992 proposal passed in Salt Lake City proper but was defeated by stiff opposition in west Salt Lake County, where residents had argued light rail would bring them little benefit.

Barnes said survey results reflecting support for another vote indicated "people saying let's not drop it, let's proceed."

"I think a lot of people think it requires a vote, which it doesn't."

UTA in recent months has proceeded with preparations for the 15-mile project as if it were a given, though the bulk of the funding depends entirely on congressional approval.

The agency every year since 1987 has received some federal dollars for planning and property acquisition, gleaning a total of $13 million from Washington for those efforts. This year it won an additional politically important $9.8 million appropriation to proceed with construction, which Barnes said will begin about this time next year.

The deal signed this summer by Transportation Secretary Federico Pena obligates UTA to finish the project by December 2000, but Barnes said the agency wants it done before then.

"We do have some pressure on the designer to create a system that can be up and running by the end of 1999."

And he insisted staunch minority opposition is inherent with any proposition.

"If you asked people whether they thought it would be OK for you to go down the street handing out 100-dollar bills, 20 percent of them would say no."

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Deseret News/KSL poll

Should the issue of light rail be put before the voters again?

DEFINITELY SHOULD 52%

PROBABLY SHOULD 20%

PROBABLY SHOULD NOT 9%

DEFINITELY SHOULD NOT 14%

DON'T KNOW 5%

Do you favor or oppose light rail?

DEFINITELY FAVOR 40%

PROBABLY FAVOR 20%

PROBABLY OPPOSE 10%

DEFINITELY OPPOSE 19%

DON'T KNOW 10%

Poll conducted Nov. 1-3, 1995, of 600 Salt Lake City residents. Margin of error +/-4.0%. Survey conducted by Dan Jones & Associates. Copyright 1995 Deseret News.