The Greater Washington Board of Trade will lobby hard to head off threatened federal cutoffs in funds for Metro subway construction, the new president of the business group said yesterday.
"We're going to expect, indeed demand, that federal funds be available to complete the system," said Peter F. O'Malley, a Prince George's County lawyer who is active in Maryland politics.
The Metro lobbying effort was one of several actions outlined yesterday by O'Malley at a press conference held to discuss his priorities and plans for the year.
O'Malley was elected president in December after the two businessmen who were supposed to head the group -- Roger R. Blunt, president of an area construction firm, and Luther H. Hodges Jr., chairman of National Bank of Washington -- resigned in succession in order to devote time to their own companies.
At the press conference, O'Malley gave a general summary of the most pressing issues on the board's agenda for the year, including transportation, business development, employment and regional business cooperation. He also pinpointed a number of political topics on which he said he expects the board to weigh in.
Transportation issues were cited on both counts. Federal officials have warned in recent weeks that they would halt Metro funds because of budgetary constraints.
But O'Malley said the board would "lobby as vocally as can be" to keep that money, and make sure the full 103 miles of the system are built. He said the public transportation opportunities offered by Metro are critical to matching unemployed people with area jobs -- one of the board's stated priorities.
O'Malley said another transportation issue for the board will be the continuing effort to transfer Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports to a regional authority for ownership and management.