Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) appointed Dyke in September to serve on the NVTC, which elects Virginia’s four representatives on the Metro board. McDonnell had long been trying to get a seat on the Metro board, saying the transit agency needs more oversight from state government.
Dyke will replace Thelma D. Drake, director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation on the NVTC board. Drake will become an alternate to the 19-member NVTC board, which is comprised of local and state officials from Loudoun, Fairfax and Arlington counties and the cities of Falls Church, Alexandria and Fairfax.
Dyke’s appointment comes as Virginia is withholding $20 million from the NVTC. The amount is expected to come closer to $40 million by the middle of this month, according to the NVTC.
Each year, the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation gives $168 million to the NVTC. The money helps fund Metro — which receives $93 million — Virginia Railway Express, and bus systems in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties and Alexandria.
But the state says it won’t give the NVTC the money until it signs a revised annual contract that would allow Virginia to have a seat on some local transit boards. Metro board members have said they worry about violating rules for local transit agencies, including Metro.
Any change to Metro’s board seats would require a change in the agreement that governs the transit agency. It must be approved by Virginia, Maryland and the District, plus Congress and the president must sign it.
This isn’t the first time Virginia has withheld funds from the northern part of the state.
Last summer, McDonnell threatened to not pay 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 transit 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 $50 million annual contribution. The amended contract does not affect that agreement, Drake has said.
Fifty-four entities across the state were asked to sign the amended transit contracts with the state. Only the NVTC, Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria have refused, state officials said.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has said the state wants the right to appoint representatives to local transit boards but would only enact it if they thought there was a problem involving safety, governance or finances.
“Only if we foresee a problem,” he said, would the state get seats on other transit boards.
But the NVTC’s representatives on Metro’s board are skeptical and reluctant to give up their seats, especially as the Dulles rail project brings 23 miles of new track to Tysons Corner, Reston and Loudoun County.