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Bill Allots Funding For Metro, Connector

By Steven Ginsberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2004; Page B01

The $388 billion spending bill that Congress agreed to last week includes funds for several major local transportation projects, including extending Metro through Tysons Corner and building an east-west highway in the Maryland suburbs.

The bill includes $25 million for preliminary engineering to extend Metrorail from West Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. The new line would add five stations, including four in Tysons Corner, and would be the first link in a line to Dulles International Airport.

Rep. Albert R. Wynn says the bill will "have a major economic impact because it makes the region much more attractive to employers." (Albert R. Wynn Photo)

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The bill also appropriates money for other Metro projects, including $76.77 million for the three-mile extension of the Blue Line to Largo set to open next month, $7 million for more buses, $500,000 for a parking garage at Glenmont and $600,000 for improvements around the Vienna Metro station.

There is also $800,000 for design and planning work on a proposed highway between Montgomery and Prince George's counties, north of the Capital Beltway. Environmental impacts of the intercounty connector are under review while Maryland officials try to work out a construction financing plan that suits the General Assembly. The state hopes to begin construction in 2006.

Congress also included $1.5 million to synchronize lights on Route 50 between eastern Loudoun County and Interstate 66 and on Route 28 between Manassas and Route 7. Last year, Congress provided $500,000 to synchronize lights at 20 intersections on Route 7, west of Tysons Corner, which transportation officials said would be ready by year's end.

Money for transportation projects has been scarce in recent years. Funding from the federal government also has lagged. Reauthorization of the six-year transportation bill has been held up for more than a year because of a disagreement between the Bush administration and Congress over its total cost.

The spending bill passed last week includes money for many national priorities and is separate from the transportation bill, which is likely to be resolved after Congress reconvenes in January. That measure would include significantly more money for many of the same projects.

"There'll be a lot more in the six-year bill," said Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.). "This keeps things going so we won't fall behind."

Rep Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), who supports the intercounty connector and extending Metro, said money in the bill "is going to get people moving and relieve congestion. It will also have a major economic impact because it makes the region much more attractive to employers."

The bill also includes $1 million to widen the westbound lanes of I-66 from Rosslyn to just across the Fairfax County line, a project that is being studied; $1 million toward transit on Route 1; $800,000 for the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission to purchase more buses; $500,000 to widen Route 29 near the Route 123 intersection in the Fairfax City; $1 million to support the extension of Old Mill Road through Fort Belvoir to connect Route 1 to Telegraph Road; and $1.25 million for improvements to the 14th Street bridge on the Virginia side.

It also appropriates $1.5 million for traffic and emergency response services in Prince George's County; $3.75 million for construction of the Route 4 and Suitland Parkway interchange; $5 million toward commuter buses and parking lots in Southern Maryland; and $750,000 for transit improvements in Montgomery.

For the District, there is $4.5 million for repairs to the Frederick Douglass Bridge on South Capitol Street to fix it until it can be replaced.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company