Alexandria: Va. should pay Metro match
The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to endorse a transportation panel's position that Virginia provide Metro with $50 million, the state's share of a match required for the federal government to provide $150 million for capital spending on rail cars and safety improvements.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has threatened to withhold the money unless the state is allowed to appoint two Virginia members to Metro's board of directors because he has said he is concerned about the way the transit system is run and its safety record. The first $12.5 million of Virginia's share is due July 1. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission appoints two principal and two alternate members to Metro's board. The four seats are now held by elected officials from Alexandria and Fairfax and Arlington counties.
Mayor William D. Euille said that he opposes McDonnell's request until the commonwealth provides 100 percent of Virginia's Metro funding, like the District and Maryland already do. In Virginia, each locality pays according to the size of the system in their city or county.
"We've all said we'll give up our seats if Virginia pays 100 percent of the costs," Euille said. "'Well, they [Virginia transportation officials] don't want to do that."
The governor first raised the issue in May on WTOP Radio.
"This is a shakedown, ladies and gentlemen," said Vice Mayor Kerry Donley. Donley said that the governor's action is putting riders at risk and jeopardizing the entire funding agreement.
The federal government has agreed to provide $1.5 billion to Metro over the next 10 years as long as the District, Maryland and Virginia provide matching funds.
The Alexandria council also unanimously voted to fund more than $62 million in capital improvements over the next six years for Metro.
The majority of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also agreed at their Tuesday meeting to send a letter to the governor urging him to honor the capital match payments.
Rick Taube, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, said that members have clearly said the governor should keep the state's commitments to Metro "that according to the previous secretary of transportation were legally binding."
The commission is scheduled to meet next on July.1.
-- Christy Goodman
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