The federal government, in an effort to solve parking problems at some U.S. facilities in downtown Washington, is considering building garages at suburban Maryland or Virginia subway stations to be reserved for federal employees, federal and Metro officials said.

One preliminary proposal is to build a garage at a suburban Metro stop specifically for Federal Triangle government workers, whose parking problems will be complicated by the planned development nearby of a huge new federal office complex off Pennsylvania Avenue NW, said Richard Hadsell, GSA's regional administrator.

However, the idea to restrict a suburban Metro parking lot to federal employees has already drawn objections from suburban officials, who are under considerable pressure to expand general Metro parking.

Hadsell said yesterday that officials from several agencies, including GSA Administrator Terence C. Golden and Metro General Manager Carmen E. Turner, have been meeting for months to discuss a range of options.

"Nothing's been proposed formally," Hadsell said. "But we're really trying to tackle this parking problem."

Metro spokeswoman Beverly Silverberg said that the GSA-Metro discussions have focused on the possibility of building parking structures on federal property near Metro stops -- not on existing Metro parking lots -- and at no cost to Metro.

"We're always looking for creative ways of adding parking spaces," Silverberg said. However, she added, "It is quite clear that there are no additional funds for parking in the Metro budget, beyond what is already planned for."

Metro Board Chairman Joseph Alexander said he would support federal construction of Metro parking "as long as it is open to the general public." Alexander said he would "have a serious problem" with the idea of reserving spaces for federal employees because "the region financed the {Metro} system . . . it's a public system and everyone deserves to have a place if it's available."

Hadsell said one possibility is that if GSA built a garage designated for Federal Triangle employees near, say, the Vienna Metro station, then Federal Triangle workers who lived far away, such as in Maryland, could use a voucher system to park free at the Metro station near them.

Another possible site for a garage, Hadsell said, is federal property near RFK Stadium and its adjoining Metro stop in the District. He added that the government also might arrange for federal workers to park during weekdays on the usually empty stadium and D.C. Armory lots. D.C. Armory Board representatives could not be reached for comment.

Alexander said any effort to reserve the parking structures for federal employees "would cause a big furor among the local congressional delegation and local governments."

Metro officials have been struggling to find ways to cope with the problem of insufficient parking, particularly in outlying suburban areas where most of Metro's lots fill before the end of the morning rush hour.

Local governments and Metro board members are studying a proposal by Metro staff to increase the parking supply across the region by 10,000 spaces, which would bring the transit agency's total number of spaces to 39,685 in four years.

Metro operates parking lots with 20,085 spaces at 20 stations and already plans to build 9,000 spaces at eight stations under construction. An additional 600 are planned at the Landover station on the Orange Line.

The initial reason for the GSA-Metro discussions was concern about parking problems at the proposed $360 million International Cultural and Trade Center, on Pennsylvania Avenue between 12th and 14th streets NW, Hadsell said.

But Hadsell said GSA and Metro officials have gone on to discuss a range of other options for federally financed parking garages for federal workers at Metro stops.

The new complex in the Federal Triangle, which will have about 2.3 million square feet and accommodate up to 10,000 employees, will be the city's biggest development project. The Department of Justice, among other agencies, is expected to consolidate its offices there.

The Federal Triangle complex will be built on an open L-shaped space next to the District Building that currently is a parking lot for 1,900 vehicles. Plans for this development on the so-called "Great Plaza" are not final, but it is clear that completion will worsen the area's parking difficulties, federal officials said. The government has not selected a developer, much less an architectural design.

This week, the National Capital Planning Commission approved preliminary plans for the complex, but said that it should include from 1,300 to 2,600 parking spaces, mostly underground.

Hadsell said that GSA undertook discussions about arranging for far-away parking after officials realized that, with a need for green space in the new complex and the government's need for maximum office space, there was little room for the required parking there.

A main problem is that the project can have only two levels of underground parking, at most, because of the area's soggy soil. An old stream called the Tiber Creek flowed near there until several decades ago, when federal and city officials built over it to make way for federal structures.

Officials have said that another potential problem is that government security experts have expressed concerns about possible terrorist threats to government buildings that are open to the public and have underground parking lots.

Despite Metro's assertion that the discussions do not involve the possiblity of Metro financing any garages, Hadsell said GSA is interested in pursuing the notion of jointly financed parking structures, as well as those paid for by the federal government alone. Municipalities also might be asked to pay, he said.

Alexander said Metro could not consider sharing the construction cost of any GSA structure. "There's no question, all our money is going into constructing and finishing the system," he said.