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USDOT's Foxx appoints three safety-oriented members to WMATA's board

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx yesterday announced the appointment of three new federal representatives to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's (WMATA) board.

The incoming appointees each have "considerable expertise in safety" and will help reform WMATA's safety culture, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation press release.

Foxx appointed the new board members with backgrounds in safety in light of his concerns over ongoing safety problems at WMATA.

The new members are:
• Carol Carmody, former vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board;
• David Strickland, former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; and
• Robert Lauby, chief safety officer of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Carmody and Strickland join the board as principle directors with voting authority, while Lauby will serve as an alternate director, USDOT officials said. Anthony Costa, a senior adviser to the administrator of the General Services Administration, will remain an alternate director. The appointments will go into effect June 1.

WMATA's board is composed of eight voting and eight alternate directors. Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and the federal government appoint two voting and two alternate directors each.

The new appointees replace outgoing board members Mort Downey, Harriet Tregoning and Anthony Giancola.

"Building a safety culture is not easy and requires relentless focus at every level. These three new federal members will build on our promise to bring a laser-like focus on making the transit system of our nation’s capital as safe as possible," Foxx said.

Foxx also reiterated his call for the governors of Maryland and Virginia, the mayor of the District of Columbia, and legislative leaders to establish a new state safety oversight agency to assume responsibility for WMATA's rail system.

"I met with each of the jurisdictions a year ago and urged them to stand up a new safety oversight office. They have not done so," Foxx said. "Given the continued urgency, we will be forced to use every available lever at our discretion to force action as soon as possible to improve safety for the traveling public."

News of the appointments comes as WMATA continues to work through a host of serious safety problems. Less than a week after the Federal Transit Administration ordered the agency to immediately address several of those issues, there was another smoke incident at WMATA's Friendship Heights Station on April 23.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/29/2016