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UPDATED: Virginia denied seats on Metro board

Anita Kumar

As expected, Northern Virginia leaders voted down Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's attempt to gain two state seats on Metro's board of directors Thursday night.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission voted 12 to 6 to keep control of the state's four members on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Board at the local level.

The commission passed a resolution calling for the panel to "work with the commonwealth to establish an enhanced and supportive relationship in order to consider and resolve all of the issues,'' including governance and funding.

"This resolution does not shut the door on discussions of a state role on the WMATA Board,'' said Cathy Hudgins, chairman of NVTC and Metro Board member. "It identifies the reasons why sufficient representation on the WMATA Board by local elected officials is essential to protect the interests of local taxpayers and customers. It also links the need for adequate funding of WMATA to the discussion of governance. It provides a strong basis for productive discussions."

The commission, made up of 19 locally and state-elected officials plus the state's public transportation director, appoints Northern Virginia's Metro directors. The Metro board's 14 members include two representatives from Fairfax County, one from Arlington County and the Alexandria mayor.

This summer, McDonnell (R) threatened to withhold Virginia's contribution to a $3 billion federal funding plan for Metro's capital needs unless the state received two of Northern Virginia's four seats on the agency's board.

The federal government agreed to give Metro $1.5 billion for capital needs over 10 years but required that Virginia, Maryland and the District to match the money. Virginia eventually paid its share.

We have asked McDonnell's office for a reaction and will let you know when we hear back.

UPDATE 4:01 p.m.: McDonnell spokesman Stacey Johnson responds: "We will continue to work towards gaining the seats and a partnering with NVTC not only in funding but governance as well. We look forward to discussions with NVTC to achieve this goal."

By Anita Kumar  | October 8, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation  
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Unfortunate, but predictable, that local politicians in N.Va. would line up to block Gov. McDonnell's proposal to reform the Va. seats on the Metro Board.

The Governor of Md. and the Mayor of D.C. are both represented on the Board, but the Governor of Va. has no vote at all. All Va. seats are currently held by local politicians, and they have been a big part of the problem.

Don't forget: the federal government has repeatedly criticized the management of the Metro system, including the Board of Directors. We need qualified experts on the Board with a broad regional view, to replace self-serving local politicians.

The Post had it right this summer in its editorial supporting the Gov. McDonnell's request. And the local politicians have it wrong.

McDonnell deserves credit for his attention to Metro, and trying to improve the system. Voters should remember the local N.Va. politicians who stood in the way of Metro reform - including Chris Zimmerman of Arlington (who is on the ballot this fall).

Posted by: jrmil | October 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

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