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Posted at 03:40 PM ET, 10/25/2011

Transit boards awaiting money for capital projects

The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission said Tuesday that it had received most of the funds that Virginia had withheld in a scuffle over local transit board seats but is still waiting on $8 million for capital projects.

Since July, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation has withheld roughly $30 million from NVTC because it refused to sign a new agreement that would allow Virginia officials more say on the boards.

NVTC, which appoints four members to Metro’s board, said it had concerns of how many seats the state wanted and whether it would violate existing compacts, including the one for Metro.

After the state made changes clarifying that it was only seeking one seat, NVTC last week signed the agreement.

Kala Quintana, director of communications for NVTC, said Tuesday that the group had received nearly $30 million from DRPT — the first batch came Friday for $9.4 million in operating funds and another $20.6 million came Monday.

“The immediate crisis has been averted,” she said. “We won’t be shutting down service anytime soon because we do have our money.”

But NVTC said it is still owed roughly $8 million in capital funds. Quintana said the state wouldn’t “send us the forms to file for the capital until the agreement was signed.”

Once NVTC signed the amendment last week, the state sent the 38 different forms on Wednesday. Quintana said that the forms have been completed and returned to the state.

“I hope they will process these as quickly as possible,” she said. “We did them as quickly as we could.”

She said the $8 million is critical because “transit is so vastly underfunded.”

“These are for things like buses and infrastructure that requires payment,” she said. “This money is for buses that have been purchased and VRE locomotives that need to be paid for.”

Kimberly Kovac, a DRPT spokeswoman, confirmed the $30 million was sent as well as the forms for capital and other non-operating projects.

“These are funds that are reimbursement invoices,’’ she said. “They will need to be processed and reviewed prior to the release of reimbursement funds. We also work with project agreements and those must be signed before invoice forms go out. NVTC certainly understands this process as they have processed hundreds of reimbursement requests over the years. Nothing has changed from our practices.” 

Each year, the rail and transportation department gives $168 million to the NVTC. The money helps fund Metro, Virginia Railway Express and bus systems in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Alexandria.

The disagreement over the funds occurred as Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) appointed lawyer and longtime Northern Virginia business leader James Dyke to the NVTC board last month.

Dyke will replace Drake, who will become an alternate to the 19-member NVTC board. The NVTC board comprises local and state officials from Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Falls Church, Alexandria and Fairfax.

The NVTC swore in Dyke as a member this month and promised to appoint him to the Metro board in January.

In April, Virginia’s divided General Assembly voted for a budget amendment giving the governor the authority to appoint a seat on the NVTC and the Metro board.

Follow Dana on Twitter @postmetrogirl.

Follow Anita on Twitter @anitakumar01.

By and  |  03:40 PM ET, 10/25/2011

Categories:  Virginia, Virginia Railway Express, Metro

 
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