From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Quick, how would you answer this multiple-choice question:
To date, the state has spent $40 million and plans to spend over $100 million more in federal and state transportation funds on the proposed Knik Arm Bridge, with private investors presumably covering the rest of the cost and receiving all toll revenue. Given that the Alaska Department of Transportation Commissioner has stated that federal road project funding is likely to be reduced by 25% beginning in 2009, would you prefer:
A. That the state continues to spend state transportation money on this project;
B. That the state spends money on local transportation repairs, maintenance and upgrades
Poll results released today by a trio of groups critical of the Knik Arm bridge say more than 70 percent of people surveyed chose 'B' -- that the money should go to local roads.
"The reality is, they've spent $40 million. The question is, do you continue to throw new money after the old money," asked Lois Epstein, director of the Alaska Transportation Priorities Project.
The questions were part of a March 10-12 Hays Research Group survey with a sample size of 401 people and a margin of error of about 4.9 percent.
Epstein said she didn't know what other questions Hays Research asked for other clients as part of the same poll.
Former Gov. Frank Murkowski and the Legislature created the toll authority in 2003 to plan for construction of the bridge and figure out how to pay for it.
KABATA spokeswoman Mary Ann Pease said the toll authority has its own public opinion numbers from an April and June survey last year, that say 70 percent of participants favored the project.
As if the opposing numbers didn't tip you off, the two surveys are pretty different.
The Hays poll was conducted statewide by telephone, with two questions about the bridge. The KABATA survey was regional, focusing on people in the Mat-Su and Anchorage, and who answered questions online or who were "intercepted at activity sites" like the mall or airport.
The Hays poll question points out the Feds won't be giving Alaska as much highway money in the future before asking what people think, while one of the KABATA survey questions tells participants "The Knik Arm area travel improvements may provide faster or more convenient travel into Anchorage from other areas of Knik Arm."