Updated: McDonnell welcomes proposed state seats on Metro board; Moran, Connolly are opposed
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Wednesday applauded the results of a new report that recommends Virginia, Maryland and the District be given greater oversight of Metro and seats on its board of directors.
"We believe the current governance structure has contributed to a decline in Metro's performance and safety record,'' McDonnell said in a statement. "The findings of the Task Force are in agreement and support increased Virginia representation on the Board, as well as improved accountability and organization, as integral to improving the system."
McDonnell (R) has long advocated for two state seats on Metro's board of directors, but has been thwarted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, which has wanted local officials to maintain control.
Updated, 4:45 p.m. Northern Virginia Democratic Reps. Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly issued a joint statement opposing state representation on the board.
"We are concerned that changes in the WMATA board structure could dilute local representation on the WMATA board,'' they wrote. "Since more than 70 percent of Virginia's contribution to WMATA comes from Northern Virginia taxpayers, Virginia's representation on the board should reflect this important funding reality."
McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin responded: "There is no justification for the position of the two congressmen other than simple, petty partisanship. Apparently the two put politics ahead of an improved Metro system. This is a perfect example of the kind of misplaced priorities voters just demonstrated they are sick and tired of witnessing."
Earlier Wednesday, a joint task force determined that Metro's governance structure is outdated, lacks accountability and has "contributed to its decline."
The task force of the Greater Washington Board of Trade and Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments issued a 35-page assessment that calls for "dramatic changes" to how Metro is run that included a recommendation on its governance structure. Read more about the report on the Dr. Gridlock blog.
The 18-member task force, composed of business and political leaders from the region, recommended that Virginia, Maryland and the District change the Metro agreement to increase the number of members from two to three for each jurisdiction, with one member appointed by the chief executive of each jurisdiction.
"I look forward to working with Governor O'Malley, Mayor Fenty, Mayor-elect Gray, the WMATA board and all Metro stakeholders to implement the report's recommendations as quickly as possible," McDonnell said. "These recommendations will help improve Metro's operations and better ensure that our citizens can enjoy the benefits of Metro safely."
This summer, McDonnell 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 match the money. Virginia eventually paid its share.
| November 17, 2010; 3:39 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell
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