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The price for WMATA's capital improvement needs? Nearly half a billion dollars


The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) needs $489 million to maintain a safe and reliable system — and half that money will be needed during the next two years, General Manager John Catoe told board members yesterday.

The authority detailed a list of needs not included in the current capital improvement program. Among them: replacing ties and track fasteners; improving rail-car safety, such as by modifying doors to prevent them from opening on the wrong side; replacing deteriorating platforms at several stations; repairing a bridge over the Anacostia River; installing emergency door releases on the outside of cars and purchasing equipment to automatically grease car wheels to prevent derailments (per the National Transportation Safety Board); repaving parking lots at eight stations; and upgrading and replacing power equipment for eight-car trains.

WMATA does not have a significant source of dedicated funding and relies on funding from local governments, which also are facing budget constraints. Agency managers currently are prioritizing projects to determine whether funds could be shifted, and will return to the board soon with possible funding options. The agency also is advocating for additional federal funding when the transportation bill comes up for reauthorization in Congress this fall.

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More News from 3/28/2008