More airports board seats sought for Va.

September 7, 2011

A congressional subcommittee is expected to take up a $55 billion annual appropriations bill Thursday to fund transportation systems.

The House version of the fiscal 2012 transportation bill includes funding for major air travel and transit systems, roads and housing initiatives. It includes $1.8 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, $1.3 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, $12.6 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration, $27.7 billion for federal highways, and $150 million for Metro.

The bill also would increase the number of seats Virginia has on the board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of the multibillion-dollar Dulles rail line project.

It would increase the number of board members from 13 to 17 and give Virginia the additional seats.

The bill would allow the governors of Maryland and Virginia, the D.C. mayor and the president to remove appointees from their respective jurisdictions, even if the appointees were chosen by their predecessors, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) said.

Wolf said Virginia should have more seats on the airports authority board because Reagan National and Dulles International airports are located there. “Anything that happens there has the most impact on Virginia,” he said.

Metro officials have expressed concern about getting the $150 million in federal funds for fiscal 2012. The transit agency is trying to replace and improve its aging rail system through an ambitious capital-improvement plan.“It’s absolutely essential to have this level of funding in the markup,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

Dana Hedgpeth is the Washington Post’s lead reporter in covering the Metro rail and bus systems in the D.C. region and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) that runs them.
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