Metro board member Acosta elevated to voting status

An examination of the nation's second largest rail transit system comes at a time when Metro tries to weather an unprecedented season of danger and dismay.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 8:32 PM

The Obama administration elevated Marcel C. Acosta on Wednesday from nonvoting to voting status on Metro's board of directors.

General Services Administration spokeswoman Sahar Wali said Acosta, one of two federally appointed members named to the board at the beginning of the year, became the "premier candidate" to become a voting member in the course of the GSA's search for candidates to fill the remaining two federal seats.

Acosta has served for almost 10 years as executive director of the National Capital Planning Commission, the federal agency responsible for planning in the Washington area.

A law passed by Congress nearly two years ago mandates that the GSA appoint two voting directors and two nonvoting directors representing the federal government to the board. The GSA made two appointments in January: Mortimer L. Downey as a voting director and Acosta as a nonvoting director.

The legislation granted Metro $1.5 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years for capital needs and safety improvements. Congress must authorize $150 million each year, and the District, Maryland and Virginia must each provide matching funds.

Metro's board of directors has eight voting members and eight nonvoting alternates. The District, Maryland, Virginia and the federal government each appoint two voting members and two alternates. The two federal nonvoting seats remain vacant.

In October, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) called on the GSA to take action by the end of this year in filling all of the vacant seats because of "the safety issues that have plagued Metro" and the transition as Metro searches for a permanent general manager.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) said she was pleased by the decision to change Acosta's status but also urged the Obama administration to name the other members soon. She said much remains to be done to improve safety throughout the transit system.

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