In an approving nod to regional leaders whom he has previously criticized, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he has been heartened by recent progress to enact legislation in D.C., Maryland and Virginia for an independent safety agency to monitor Metro.

Last year, Foxx demanded that the jurisdictions served by Metro establish a new “state safety oversight authority,” once it came to light that the existing safety oversight agency had no regulatory teeth. In the ensuing months, Foxx criticized local leaders for allegedly dragging their feet.

Now, in a letter sent Wednesday to D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), Foxx’s feedback took a change of tone.

“I am encouraged to see that the jurisdictions share the U.S. Department of Transportation’s commitment to the safety of the WMATA Metrorail system and have taken steps collectively over the past several months to establish a new [State Safety Oversight Authority],” he wrote.

Foxx said recent developments have made him more confident that the oversight body will come together in the next six months. Specifically, he praised the fact that Bowser has formally submitted legislation to the D.C. Council with the intention of getting a vote in the fall and that the three jurisdictions are working together on building a framework for the new safety agency.

“This effort also is essential to ensuring that the jurisdictions are able to stand up and maintain a fully functioning SSOA as soon as practicable after the legislation is enacted by all three jurisdictions,” he wrote.

Still, Foxx said he’s keeping the Feb. 9 deadline that he established early this year.

“The progress that the three jurisdictions have made to date clearly demonstrates that you are capable of meeting the deadline with continued focus,” Foxx said.

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