D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, forced by the Reagan administration to cut city borrowing from the U.S. Treasury, yesterday proposed a municipal construction program for 1983 that has no new costly buildings or other big-ticket projects.
The mayor asked authority to spend $84 million on new projects instead of this year's $182 million. More than half of that sum would go for Metro transit and highway projects.
The cutback, to the lowest level in a decade, stems largely from the Reagan administration's decision to hold city borrowing from the Treasury for construction programs to $145 million next year, a drop from the more than $219 million the city originally had hoped to borrow in the current fiscal year.
Although the lid on borrowing is well above the proposed $84 million authorization sought for new projects, some of the Treasury money must be used to pay for work that will continue on projects authorized in past years that are still under way. Projects already under way, or authorized by Congress in the budget for the 1982 fiscal year that began last Oct. 1, are not affected by the cutback.
As a result of the reduced budget, only one old school--McKinley High in near Northeast Washington--is slated for renovation instead of the three schools that had been listed for 1983 in the city's long-term capital outlay program. Dropped for now are Langley Junior High School, also in near Northeast, and Jefferson Junior High School, in the Southwest urban renewal area.
Likewise, a start will be made on full modernization of only one public housing project, Highland Dwellings on Atlantic Avenue SE, south of St. Elizabeths Hospital, at a cost of $9 million. Long-term projects postponed for next year are Stanton Terrace in far Southeast and Greenleaf Gardens in near Southwest.
Also off the list is additional construction at the Van Ness campus of the University of the District of Columbia.
In his message to the D.C. City Council, the mayor sought to put a positive face on the relatively small construction budget.
"This substantial reduction," he wrote, "results from our commitment to examine comprehensively all existing projects, to focus on completing projects now under way and reduce the drain on internal resources in these days of high financing costs."
The $84-million request is not the entire sum that would be spent on the construction program. Those funds, borrowed from the Treasury and repaid with interest by D.C. taxpayers, would be matched by an estimated $95 million in federal transportation grants, bringing the spending program to a total of $179 million.
Transportation accounts for the biggest overall chunk of the construction budget. Of $44 million in city funds, the biggest single item is a $19-million contribution toward extending Metro's Green Line subway construction beneath the Anacostia River, from the Navy Yard to the Anacostia station. Another $2.8 million would go for Metrobus improvements.
A total of nearly $20 million would be spent for highway and bridge reconstruction and resurfacing.
In addition to the $3.2-million renovation of McKinley High School, the school board would get nearly $4.8 million for permanent improvements at various unspecified schools.
Another $2 million would be spent by the D.C. General Services Department to convert old schools and other city-owned buildings into office space, an expenditure designed to cut future costs of leasing private structures.
The Fire Department would get $1.2 million to continue improving station houses and replacing equipment, but a more ambitious planned project--replacing Engine Co. 20, now at 4300 Wisconsin Ave. NW--did not make the list.
Other notable projects proposed include: $1.5 million for street construction at the Fort Lincoln urban renewal project; $2.4 million for a new youth center and $1.7 million for permanent improvements at Lorton Reformatory; $618,700 for renovations at the Mount Pleasant branch library and $300,000 for other library improvements; $1.2 million for renovation at the Cedar Knoll institution for juvenile offenders near Laurel; $1.7 million for major repairs at D.C. General Hospital, and $2.1 million to expand the Washington Center for Aging Services at the former National Lutheran Home.