Southwest light rail needs support

"The election's over -- so what's this campaign-looking flier doing in my mailbox?" That question might arise this week in some 39,000 southwest-metro households as the third in a series of mailings touting the proposed Southwest Corridor light-rail transit line arrives.

The mailing is the handiwork of the Southwest Transit Alliance, composed of five local and regional chambers of commerce. The earlier fliers sought to have voters ask legislative candidates to support Southwest light-rail. The latest urges them to join a grass-roots network that can be mobilized to communicate support for the project to the 2013 Legislature.

Clearly, the business community means business about the Southwest Corridor. But there's something a mite cheeky about this third mailing. At least one alliance member, the TwinWest Chamber, also endorsed GOP candidates who don't favor Southwest. The mailer in essence asks voters to help change the minds of the same legislators whose unreconstructed minds the business lobby found quite acceptable only a few months ago.

Enough of those candidates lost to give DFLers the majority in the 2013 session. That should improve chances of securing the $125 million in state funding that the $1.25 billion project requires. (Federal, local and regional funds can be tapped for the remaining 90 percent.)

But DFLers are still two votes short in the Senate and eight votes short in the House of the supermajority required to pass bonding bills. GOP votes will be needed. And given the endorsement decisions business PACs made this year, business lobbyists are going to need all the help their mailings can muster to persuade a handful of rail-resistant Republicans to climb aboard this train.