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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will use up to $900,000 in previously allocated state and local funding to hire contractors to help with safety oversight of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).The money was originally set aside for the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to conduct their own safety oversight work of WMATA, FTA Acting Administrator Carolyn Flowers wrote in a letter to the transportation leaders in the three jurisdictions. The newly hired contractors eventually will transfer their knowledge and expertise to the Metrorail Safety Commission, which the three jurisdictions must create to serve as a state safety oversight agency (SSOA) for WMATA. The contractors' responsibilities will include inspections, investigations and other oversight activities. "These contractors will gain experience and training for appropriate safety oversight procedures that will be critical to the new SSOA once it is established," Flowers wrote. "The FTA continues to believe that the jurisdictions' daily involvement in the current oversight of Metrorail will prepare the new SSOA to more quickly and effectively assume oversight responsibilities for WMATA."In October 2015, the FTA took direct safety oversight of WMATA's Metrorail system. The FTA will continue serving in that role until District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia establish a new state safety oversight agency that complies with federal law and is capable of performing safety oversight of WMATA's rail system.
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