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Metro will get $20M from the federal government to pay for SafeTrack

Commuters wait on the platform at the Vienna Metro station on  June 6, 2016. Overcrowding on platforms and extended delays are expected to continue due to the Metro SafeTrack project. (Photos by Amanda Voisard)
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Metro’s massive year-long maintenance effort is many things — including expensive. General Manger Paul J. Wiedefeld put the price tag at roughly $60 million dollars. That’s no small change at an agency that’s already hurting financially and has demanded the federal government kick in more money to help it out.

The federal government hasn’t promised Metro any new money but on Monday, the Federal Transit Administration said it had given the transit agency permission to use $20 million in existing federal capital funds to help pay for its ambitious Safe Track repair program.

Read FTA’s letter allowing Metro to use $20M in federal capital funds to pay for Safe Track

FTA has been keeping a tight rein on the money it provides Metro since a 2014 audit found that the transit agency couldn’t account for some of the dollars it had spent. Since then, Metro has been required to document where the money is going and FTA, which is now responsible for temporarily overseeing safety of Metro’s rail system, has demanded that the dollars be used on fixes that will make the system safer before they are spent on anything else.

The FTA wants to know how Metro spent billions in federal grant funds

Metro says it will use the $20 million to pay for four Safe Track “surge” segments: Franconia-Springfield to Van Dorn, set to begin in August; Vienna to West Falls Church, set to begin in September; Fort Totten to NoMa-Gallaudet, set to begin in October; and East Falls Church to West Falls Church, which involves two surge projects – one set to begin in November and another in  March.

Wiedefeld has said he is committed to completing the Safe Track work on time and on budget, using existing Metro capital funds.

Metro Board Chairman Jack Evans — Metro needs more dollars from the feds

Having trouble maneuvering around Metro's 10-month maintenance overhaul? Well here is a guide to help riders find the perfect alternative. (Video: Ashleigh Joplin/The Washington Post)