Southwest Light Rail Transit has seen mixed success over the past year. Neither the state Legislature nor Department of Employment and Economic Development deemed the project worthy of a $14 million request—although Dayton eventually threw $2 million to keep LRT moving forward.
Now organizers are taking the fight directly to the people.
TwinWest, the Edina Chamber of Commerce, the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce have rebranded the Southwest Transit Alliance as “More Jobs Less Traffic.”
The alliance reworked its website and mailed thousands of flyers to residents in legislative districts along the line that started arriving this week.
The flyer asks residents to talk with state legislators about the 15-mile rail line—noting the number of jobs expected to come into corridor, how many people will use LRT and the state’s small share compared to other funders.
“Keep Light Rail Coming to Our Area,” it reads.
The goal is to build grassroots advocacy for the line during the campaign season and beyond—“really trying to move the needle,” said Judy Johnson, TwinWest’s government affairs Director.
This isn’t the first time the alliance has promoted grassroots efforts. Last session, it had online and social media initiatives.
But this time, Southwest advocates want to ensure residents talk about light rail when asked about the issues that are important to them—and that voters bring up light rail during candidate debates and forums, Johnson said. They also hope to sway people who are still on the fence about light rail.
“This is a bigger, broader effort,” she said.
The intention is not for the work to end with the election, though. Those who visit the More Jobs Less Traffic site are asked to leave their contact information. That will allow Southwest LRT promoters to tap into opinion leaders and round up people to visit the Capitol to make the case for light rail.