Board that governs Dulles and Reagan may face changes

A move from Congress may force changes to the board that oversees Reagan National and Dulles airports, and the construction of the new Metrorail extension to Loudoun County.

Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf (R) is pushing for members of the airport authority board to be prohibited from serving past the end of their terms. The legislation would also allow for members to be “removed for cause.”

The bill would increase the size of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) board from 13 to 17. Virginia would receive two new appointments and Maryland and the District would each receive one additional member.

The changes are part of the funding bill for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday; the Senate on Friday.

The MWAA board has opposed moves by Wolf to change its structure of its board. The chairman and vice chairman, Charles Snelling and Tom Davis, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the legislation.

In a press release, Wolf’s office said he “pushed for the changes after growing increasingly frustrated by the board.”

Earlier this year, Wolf and other lawmakers had requested the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General Office audit MWAA’s operations. That review is expected to be completed this spring.

“These airports are the economic engine for the region and with MWAA responsible for the Dulles rail project, ensuring that Virginia has more say and that board members are current and more accountable is more important than ever,” Wolf said in the press release.

“Everything possible must be done to keep the rail project on budget to keep the tolls as low as possible.”

Board members for MWAA have typically served until their replacement is in place.

But Wolf cited an incident earlier this year where a board member whose term expired in January 2009 and had not been replaced was voting by proxy from Africa. The board member was finally replaced in April.

Wolf also said a replacement has yet to be named for a board member whose term expired in May 2010. In addition, a third board member’s term ends at the end of November and Wolf said it is unclear if the replacement process has begun.

“Board members need to be replaced when their terms end,” Wolf said in the release. “It’s not their fault that they aren’t being replaced but if the officials making the appointments know that the seat is going to be vacant, maybe there will be more of an incentive to make appointments in a more timely fashion.”

Follow me on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.

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