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Obama's Proposed Metro Funding Cuts Anger Area

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Tom Sherwood reports on lawmaker outrage over President Barack Obama's plan to cut the federal government's $150 million per year share to repair the Metrorail system. (Published Thursday, Mar 29, 2012)

    Washington regional leaders are mounting a campaign on Capitol Hill to block President Barack Obama's proposed cuts in federal money intended to help repair the aging Metro system.

    "I don't know why he did it," said Mayor Vincent Gray of Obama's proposal.

    The federal government previously agreed to contribute $150 million a year for 10 years to help pay for desperately needed Metro repairs. In return, Maryland, Virginia and D.C. each agreed to chip in $50 million a year over the next decade.

    But now the Obama administration is cutting its share by $15 million this year, a potential cut that could add up over the next decade and slow the system reconstruction.

    Regional officials point out that 40 percent of Metro's ridership is made up of federal workers in the region. The regional officials have sent a strongly worded letter to Capitol Hill warning that any pullback by the federal government would have dire consequences.

    Ward 1 Council member Jim Graham, a former Metro board member, suggested the region might retaliate with cuts of its own, a move that would adversely affect operations of the federal government as the Metro system fell into further disrepair.

    Tom Downs, a former transit official and a current Metro board member, said Metro is deep into a major repair program that will takes years, and that ridership already is affected by the construction.

    He said any shortchange in money by the federal government will only make the situation worse.