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WASHINGTON — Possible solutions to Metro’s long-standing funding and governance problems could soon be made public.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this year hired former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to come up with a comprehensive plan that political leaders in the region could get behind.
“I think we’ll get it resolved,” McAuliffe said.
“[LaHood] will be in to see me in the next two weeks with his preliminary report. He has met with [Maryland] Governor Hogan and he has met with [D.C.’s] Mayor Bowser. So I do believe Virginia has been the catalyst to get everybody together and once that report comes out, and he has met with the federal officials, I think you’ll see some action very quickly,” McAuliffe said.
He made those comments at a ceremony touting a new Express Lanes project along Interstate 395 as a victory lap for transportation.
McAuliffe, who highlighted several transportation projects started during his term, disputed the suggestion that Metro would be a blemish on his transportation record.
“I think all three of us will be in sync in how to move forward, so I’m very optimistic that finally we will have resolution on Metro.”
LaHood has focused less on new ideas, or rehashing old ones, and more on finding a way to build consensus in a region with three different jurisdictions wielding veto power.
Metro is funded by Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and the federal government but does not have a dedicated funding source. It is the only subway system in the nation without a dedicated and consistent funding plan.
McAuliffe expressed support for a dedicated funding source, but admitted past proposals which would have Virginia pick up the lion’s share of the costs even though a greater percentage of riders coming from D.C. and Maryland weren’t equitable and would need to be addressed. It’s possible LaHood has figured out how to do that.
“We’re going to have a resolution, I think, in the next 30 days,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve been briefed preliminarily. He’s not totally done. I know what he’s going to recommend, he’s going to have some very strong measures that he’s going to recommend.”
LaHood’s report is expected to be comprehensive in scope, going beyond how to fund the system.
“The good news is, I’m very optimistic that in the next 30 days or when we finally issue the report.”
McAuliffe said he believes all three jurisdictions will come together on a comprehensive plan for Metro.
“We just needed something that would bring us all together because everybody was in gridlock,” said McAuliffe. “Everybody in their individual jurisdictions, [saying] ‘I don’t want this. I don’t want that.’”
The hope is that LaHood’s report will give lawmakers in the Maryland and Virginia general assemblies time to get funding mechanisms for Metro approved.
“From my discussions with my fellow leaders, I think we’re all in agreement. We know what we have to do.”