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Poll: Voters split on streetcar plan

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: September 19, 2013 - 1:26 PM

Despite unanimous support from the City Council, voters are split on City Hall's ambitions to build a streetcar through the heart of Minneapolis, according to a poll conducted for the Star Tribune.

Just 39 percent of likely voters said they would support a plan to spend $200 million on a streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues -- 36 percent oppose it. The Council voted this June to divert about $60 million in city property taxes to the project, while other funding sources remain unidentified.

The poll of 800 likely voters, conducted between September 8-10 by Pulse Opinion Research, has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points.

About 24 percent of respondents said they were not sure about the project. Support was high among Democrats -- 45 percent -- while 66 percent of Republicans said they opposed the plan.

The first phase of the line, expected to cost about $200 million, would run in the area between K-Mart on Lake Street and Kramarczuks in Northeast.

In addition to the City Council, Mayor R.T. Rybak and most candidates vying to succeed him have endorsed spending on streetcars.  One exception is independent Cam Winton, who has been a vocal critic. Stephanie Woodruff has also signaled her opposition, and Jackie Cherryhomes opposes a unique funding method being used to pay for them.

The state Legislature gave the city authority this year to fund streetcars using a unique tool called a "value capture district." That allows them to capture property taxes from several specific apartment projects already under construction.

The party breakdown of the poll was 53 percent Democrat, 36 percent "other" and 12 percent Republican.

Click here for a more complete breakdown of the poll results.

Photo: A streetcar in Portland, Oregon.

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