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Board of Trade: Virginia's credibility at stake along with Metro funding

By Jonathan O'Connell

Transportation has long been a top priority for the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the group's president, Jim Dinegar, was none too pleased to hear the news that Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell may withhold Virginia's share of capital funding needed for Metro to draw down $1.5 billion in federal funds.

Dinegar said Thursday that he understands McDonnell's grievances with Metro's leadership structure, which is why the board of trade and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments have asked for a review of Metro's governance. But he said it would be a "real tragedy" if Metro didn't receive the safety improvements and new cars that the money would afford.

“The credibility of the Commonwealth of Virginia is at stake if they withhold the money from WMATA," Dinegar said. "It is just an unfortunate negotiating tactic.”

He said Virginia's action doesn't speak to the cooperation needed to operate Metro.

“The concern I have is that at the 11th hour sometimes you have to just bite the tongue, move on with the funding, and understand that if you have a solid case to make it will be heard. You don’t have to hold things hostage,” he said. Dinegar said McDonnell had been informed of the board's concerns.

The board of trade is also considering what President Obama's memo on reducing the federal real estate portfolio means for the area: “This issue, for greater Washington, is the flip side of we’re stronger and better than others in a recession. We’re also more susceptible to if the federal government sneezes, we catch a cold.”

By jonathan O'Connell  |  June 18, 2010; 12:16 PM ET
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