Transportation Secretary Brock Adams told a delegation of Washington area officials yesterday that he will decide within a week whether to permit construction of the Metro subway line from Silver Spring to Glenmont.
That was the word the officials brought from a 90-minute meeting in Adams' office yesterday. "We expected a decision today and we didn't get one," said Montgomery County Executive James P. Gleason. "On the other hand, we didn't get a decision that said no. I'm always optimistic."
At the same time, Maryland Transportation Secretary Hermann Intemann said he would continue to withhold $328 million in Metro construction funds until Adams' decision is reached. Intemann also attended the meeting, as did Metro officials and Metro board members from Maryland, Virginia and Washington.
Intemann, at the request of Gleason, has declined to sign a contract that would let the construction funds flow. Gleason has said he wants a federal guarantee that the Glenmont line will be built before he permits construction to go forward on other segments.
While the money being hold is programmed for many Metro projects in Maryland, it also will be used for Washington and Virginia projects. Politicians from those jurisdictions, although somewhat irritated at the delay, have stood beside Gleason during the months-long debate.
Adams promised, Gleason and others said, "that he would send us a letter; that it would be clear and would not contain any 'artful language." There has been some confusion over what earlier letters from Adams to regional officials have really meant.
A spokesman for Adams said later that the secretary regarded the meeting as "instructive". According to accounts of several participants, Adams stressed his concern about fitting the expensive 4.5 mile Glenmont line ($347 million) into a total national transportation funding picture.
Local officials, such as Arlington County Board Chairman Joseph Wholey, told Adams, he said, that is clear signal on Glenmont was "very important to maintaining the delicate political balance [on Metro] in the region."