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Metro officials acknowlege Virginia committed funds, but say the timing is uncertain

Anita Kumar

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton told Metro Chief of Staff Shiva Pant that he was "considering an agreement" that would have the state pay its $500 million commitment to Metro over 10 years.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein acknowledged the development late Thursday, reports The Post's Ann Scott Tyson, but Farbstein said the timing remained unclear. Pant passed that message along to the board members Thursday morning, she said.

That didn't stop Metro Interim General Manager Richard Sarles from warning Virginia that if it did not act within 24 hours to renew its pledge to provide $500 million to match federal funding for Metro over the next 10 years, it would jeopardize the contract to purchase new Metro rail cars.

Connaughton visited Metro headquarters Thursday to explain to Virginia's Metro Board representatives that he would commit to the funding even if it does not receive the seats on the Metro board that he and Gov. Bob McDonnell want, provided there would be dialogue with the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission about the seats, Farbstein said.

Farbstein said the Federal Transit Administration has raised a concern about Virginia's commitment to match the federal funds for the next 10 years based on reported comments from Virginia officials. "We have not seen anything from Virginia to satisfy FTA concerns,'' she said.

Read the full story.

By Anita Kumar  |  June 25, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Are Bob McDonnell and Sean Connaughton going to pay Metro what Virginia owes and pay it on time? The answer is unclear from this reporter's blog posts and the Virginia transportation secretary's spin.

One of her blog post quotes Connaughton saying "the state will pay," yet the very next one only suggests he is "considering an agreement" to pay.

There is a huge difference between those two statements attributed to Connaughton, but the reporter made no effort to find out which of them is true.

The reporter seems to accept, without question, the pronouncements, fuzzy math, and "facts" provided by the governor and his staff about Virginia's financial commitment to Metro. At the same time, she has minimized the controversy over McDonnell's eleventh-hour political powerplay to strongarm the Northern Virginia Transportation Council into handing over a seat in exchange for Virginia's promised payment to Metro.

One could surmise that the reporter is a little too friendly with her sources in the governor's office. Maybe, she accepts their spin at face value because she doesn't want to rock the boat and risk losing access.

Meanwhile, McDonnell jets off for vacation and Northern Virginians and Metro officials are left wondering whether or not Virginia will meet the payment deadline, or force Metro to postpone ordering safer rail cars, including those for the new Silver Line to Dulles.

Posted by: spatrickbe | June 25, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

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