THE REGION

MARC Delays Blamed on New Engines

MARC officials apologized to riders yesterday after the fourth major delay in the past two weeks. Train officials said that locomotives on Penn Line Train 436, leaving Union Station at 5:37 p.m., have failed three times, causing delays of at least an hour as passengers were transferred to other trains. Officials also said that later trains have been delayed and crowded as a result.

Ira Silverman, MARC's chief transportation officer, said a fourth train was canceled last week because of similar problems, which are linked to a feature of a new model of electric locomotive designed to prevent damage.

The problems have occurred on more than one locomotive, even though most have been on the 5:37 run, he said.

MARC officials said they do not know when the problems will be solved.

Highway Bill Includes Md.-Va. Ferry Funds

Part of a multibillion-dollar federal highway bill awaiting President Bush's signature includes $800,000 to help develop a terminal for a ferry that would link Maryland and Virginia across the Chesapeake Bay.

The transportation measure, approved before Congress recessed last week, includes funding to plan, design and possibly acquire land to build a terminal in Crisfield, Md. The ferry would link Maryland's lower shore and Reedville, Va., in Northumberland County and could transport 200,000 or more vehicles annually.

Va. Suspects Chased to Md. and D.C.

Shoplifting suspects were pursued on crowded streets and roads in two states and into Metro stations yesterday in a chase that began at Tysons Corner and led to the Bethesda and Friendship Heights Metro stops.

After the theft at Tysons, the suspects' car was driven the wrong way on Route 7 for a while, seemed to vanish, was picked up again by helicopter and followed to Maryland, said a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. After a similar car was found near the Bethesda Metro station, officers swarmed the Friendship Heights station in the District, to head off a getaway, Montgomery County police said. But as of late last night, no arrests were reported.

Heat Matches Year's High at National

At some point in a hot summer, it becomes increasingly difficult to compare one day's scorch with another day's swelter. But yesterday was as hot as it has been all season.

The thermometer read 97 degrees at Reagan National Airport at 2:55 p.m. Only two days this year have been that hot: July 26 and July 27.

THE DISTRICT

Ballpark Zone Created in Southeast

A "ballpark zone" now exists in the District. The National Capital Planning Commission voted yesterday to amend the city's zoning to include a place for a ballpark in Southeast Washington.

In discussing details, commissioners decided: not to allow lights higher than 130 feet; to make sure parking would be inside the stadium and underground; not to require that the outfield walls frame a view of the Capitol dome, and to let the architect of the Capitol and the U.S. Capitol Police have design input in the on security matters and on line-of-sight issues between the ballpark and the dome.

Williams Supports Stadium Financing Deal

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) has approved the city entering a private financing deal with Deutsche Bank for a new baseball stadium, officials said yesterday.

Under tentative terms the city would accept a $246 million payment from the bank in exchange for revenue from stadium concession taxes and an annual rent payment from the Washington Nationals.

The payment would help cut taxes on city businesses from $14 million a year to about $8 million a year to help finance construction bonds. The deal could take several weeks to finalize, city officials said.

Hearing Set on Affordable Housing

The D.C. Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing Sept. 8 to question city planners and a coalition of zoning advocates on their proposals to add affordable housing to private projects across the city.

The commission heard from city residents, activists, officials and plan advocates, in three hearings in the last two weeks. Presentations focused on two proposals, from the D.C. Campaign for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning and the D.C. Office of Planning. Both would require private developers to price some housing below market rates in return for permitting bigger projects.

The session, at 7:30 p.m. at 441 Fourth St. NW, will be open to the public but will not include public comment.

VIRGINIA

Man Killed After Intervening in Dispute

A Lorton man was stabbed to death last night when he intervened in a domestic argument near his home, Fairfax County police said.

Police said the 30-year-old man tried to halt a dispute about 10 p.m. outside an apartment house on Hagel Circle.

More Graves Discovered at U.-Va.

Archaeologists exploring a site at the University of Virginia have found 18 grave shafts that could be part of a community burial ground for free black residents, university officials said yesterday.

The discovery, in Charlottesville, brings the number of graves found in the area to 32.

MARYLAND

Leaders Ask Ehrlich Backers for Restraint

Maryland's legislative leaders yesterday urged top Republicans to halt "politically motivated attacks" on the special committee that recently was named to investigate alleged personnel abuses by the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

"We would ask these antagonists to cease the character attacks and obstructions and heed their own words," wrote Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).

The letter was addressed to committee members and copied to Ehrlich's general counsel, Jervis Finney who recently called for Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) to quit the panel.

The committee is expected to hold its first meeting this month.

"I found it easier to navigate the California desert than make my way through the pathetically dark roads of Calvert County."

-- John Eney, a Calvert resident frustrated by what he believes is the county's lack of lighting. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Petula Dvorak, Steven Ginsburg, Matthew Mosk, David Nakamura, Martin Weil, Debbi Wilgoren and Clarence Williams and the Associated Press.