United States

Virginia Lawmakers Approve New Metro Funding

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Virginia lawmakers have approved a bipartisan plan to pay for the state's share of $500 million a year in new funding to improve the Washington-area's struggling public transit system.

Lawmakers approved the legislation Saturday directing about $150 million to Metro, with supporters saying it would use existing transportation money for Northern Virginia and not raise new taxes.

The legislation stipulates several reforms, according to a statement from Delegate Tim Hugo, including a rule that Metro can't ask Virginia for a spending bump exceeding 3 percent.

Metro must also draw up a detailed capital improvement plan, establish a four-member Metro Reform Commission and a commission that will report to high-level Virginia legislators, among other reforms, Hugo said.

The funding won't kick in until 30 days after D.C. and Maryland enact legislation supporting dedicated funding.

Opponents said the funds could be better spent on roads.

A 2017 study by former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recommended that Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia provide annual dedicated funding of $500 million for capital costs.

Virginia's plan still needs to be approved by Gov. Ralph Northam.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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