The Gramm-Rudman legislation is designed to move our nation toward a balanced federal budget. However, if federal funding for the Metrorail system is cut to zero in 1987, as proposed by the administration in response to Gramm-Rudman, the people of the Washington metropolitan region will suffer more than just the loss of unfinished parts of the rail line. Truncating the system will curtail the economic growth and prosperity that has been associated with the development of Metrorail and renege on a longstanding commitment to the full regional rail system.
The Washington Metro system is more than reliable, safe, clean, modern and efficient transportation. It creates jobs, promotes commercial development and reduces traffic congestion. It enjoys unparalleled support by the citizens of the Washington community and visitors to the nation's capital, who also depend on it for their mobility.
The Metro board is appealing to President Reagan that funding for Metro be included in his fiscal year 1987 budget request. The importance of this action cannot be underestimated.
If we fail in our efforts to obtain further federal funding, completion of the Green Line is in jeopardy, as well as the Yellow Line stations at Van Dorn Street and Franconia-Springfield and the Red Line at Glenmont. Without federal construction funding, the citizens who live near these stations, who have waited more than 15 years for Metrorail service, may never see the first train in operation.
The Green Line, which runs through some of the most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and serves some of the most transit-dependent citizens in our region, is needed right now. For the administration to consider cutting off federal funding for this important segment of the system is devastating.
The Green Line has been delayed in the planning and engineering phase and by protracted litigation. Now that we have gone beyond these hurdles, we must bring the people who live along the Green Line corridor public transportation and all the benefits that come with it.
The Metrorail system has a rich history of federal-local cooperation. The system is a product of federal initiative in 1955, and has been endorsed and supported by every administration, beginning with President Eisenhower's.
This special relationship we share amounts to a covenant between the federal government, Congress and the local governments. Most parties to that covenant have kept faith: Congress has consistently supported the program, making timely appropriations for its continued development; the local governments have paid and continue to pay their share of capital construction costs and have made hard decisions on alignment and other matters in order to see the system progress.
It is time for the administration to demonstrate good faith with this region and support the completion of the full 103-mile system, for the sake of the residents who still await service, for the many hundreds of thousands of visitors and for all the citizens of the capital region.
The Metro board and our local congressional delegation will continue to seek the only satisfactory resolution of this issue: assurance of continued federal funding.