By Lena H. Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The U.S. Senate passed a $122 billion transportation, housing and urban development funding bill last week that includes $150 million for the first year of long-sought federal funds for Metro.
The House passed its version earlier this year, so the two chambers need to work out differences before President Obama signs a final bill.
Congress passed legislation last year authorizing $1.5 billion in federal funds over 10 years to help Metro buy rail cars and pay for other much-needed capital projects. The District, Maryland and Virginia also agreed to provide $1.5 billion in matching funds.
The Senate bill includes language that requires Metro to place the highest priority on "projects that will improve the safety" of the system, including implementing recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board. The board has urged the transit agency to replace its oldest rail cars, which were involved in this summer's fatal Metro crash; install guardrails at curved sections of track to keep train wheels from derailing; and buy equipment to warn track workers and train operators of approaching trains.
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee, included language directing the U.S. transportation secretary to provide a report to the appropriations committees outlining ways to strengthen regulation of transit system safety nationwide.