Unlike his Republican opponent, Democrat Ross Anderson says if he's elected he'll fight like mad for federal funding for light rail in Salt Lake County.

With Thursday morning rush-hour traffic on I-15 as a backdrop, Anderson said he supports the Utah Transit Authority's light rail plan 100 percent, "unlike (Rep.) Enid Greene's failure and refusal to work for federal funding of light rail and expansion of I-15, and unlike Merrill Cook's promise to kill light rail if he is elected."Anderson said Cook is an obstructionist on the light-rail issue and that citizens don't need "a talk show host" telling them what's best for mass transit. Cook, a millionaire owner of a mining explosive firm, was a talk show host at KALL radio for a time before announcing his 2nd District candidacy.

In answer to a question, Anderson said if Congress won't provide 80 percent funding for light rail, then the whole mass transit plan must be revisited. Before 2nd District or Utah residents are asked to put more tax money into light rail, there should be a vote of the people, Anderson said.

Greene, the current incumbent in the 2nd Congressional District, has been lukewarm to light rail, saying it's her opinion that the House won't provide 80 percent funding for the project. UTA officials say current revenues wouldn't cover the project without 80 percent federal funds.

Cook opposes light rail and after winning the GOP primary election said he believes it's unlikely the House would fund light rail if the GOP House member from the district didn't want it. Cook does, however, support some kind of mass transit in the district. He especially likes "heavy" rail, where current rail road tracks running near I-15 would be used for train service between Provo and Ogden.

Anderson ran down a whole list of transportation, environmental and health reasons why light rail is needed now.

I-15 no longer has the capacity to serve north-south traffic in the valley. Many streets in the valley are at their vehicle capacity. Traffic on I-15 is projected to increase 78 percent in 15 years as side-street traffic "becomes like a parking lot." Light rail is a proven technology with success systems in 25 cities; 28 cities are building or planning light rail. More than 60 percent of pollution in the valley comes from cars; and 55 percent of cancers are linked to air pollution, says the EPA. Light rail will cut a one-hour commute to a half hour. Without light rail, Utah will lose federal matching funds for I-15 reconstruction and Utahns will be stuck with the whole $1 billion cost of I-15.

Cook takes special exception to Anderson's claim that the state must have light rail to get I-15 funding. "Not so, no one will work harder to get that 80 percent federal funding for mass transit and the I-15 match than me," said Cook. "But we need a mass transit system worthy of the 2nd District, one for the 21st century that will work - and that isn't light rail."