Metro signs off on agreement with Va.
12:40 p.m. Update: Metro's board of directors signed off Thursday on an agreement with Virginia to match federal funding for safety improvements, ending a month-long political battle over the state's push to be represented on the board.
The deal will allow the the transit agency to sign an $886 million contract Friday for 428 new rail cars, a high-priority capital purchase that was in danger of falling through without Virginia's share of the federal money.
-- Lisa Rein
10:55 a.m.Update: The meeting has resumed in public session.
10:10 a.m. Update: The Metro board meeting began about 9:05 a.m., but the board voted to go into executive session, which is not public. The public portion is expected to resume at 10:30 a.m. The board typically meets in executive session to discuss personnel and legal matters. It is unclear exactly what they are discussing in executive session this morning. The Virginia funding is the only significant item listed on the agenda. Lisa Rein is at Metro headquarters and will provide details as they become available.
Original post: Metro announced Wednesday night that its board of directors will meet Thursday morning to discuss Virginia's contribution to its Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act funding.
Under the plan, the federal government has agreed to provide the agency with $1.5 billion over 10 years for capital and safety needs. However, the District, Virginia and Maryland are each required to provide $50 million per year in matching funds.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell has recently balked at the commonwealth contributing funds because he wants the power to appoint two members to Metro's board. Virginia's two principal and two alternate members are currently nominated by local jurisdictions and appointed by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. The four seats are now held by elected officials from Alexandria and Fairfax and Arlington counties.
"We are simply asking for the same level of representation already given to the federal government, the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia," Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton told The Post last week.
Under the plan for the matching funds, the federal government appoints two principal members and two alternates to Metro's board. Two appointees were named in January, but the government has to fill two positions still.
Connaughton said Virginia plans to commit to the funding, even if it doesn't get members on the board, but wanted to continue discussions on the issue with the transportation commission.
"We believe that this issue can be resolved quickly and amiably,'' he said. "Metro faces serious safety issues, and the commonwealth is committed to helping to resolve them in the years ahead."
The first $12.5 million of Virginia's initial $50 million share is due Thursday, and Metro plans to enter into a contract to buy new rail cars next week based on the new funding stream.
Metro board members will hold their meeting via teleconference. However, people can listen to the meeting on the Web or in the board's meeting room at Metro headquarters, 600 Fifth St. NW.
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