Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn, who recently wrote a letter criticizing how Metro handles its finances, officially joined the transit agency’s board of directors Thursday.
Rahn immediately jumped in as a member of the board’s Finance and Capital Committee asking how much a proposed project to replace a nearly 60-year-old bus garage in Bladensburg. The estimated cost would be at least $200 million.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of history behind these issues and I’m coming into them as a newbie,” he said. “I’m impressed with the staff and their ability to answer questions so far. This will be a productive experience for me and I hope that I will be able to add a different perspective to the board going forward.”
Rahn replaces former board member Clarence Crawford, who represented Prince George’s County, Maryland.
With the board restructuring, the county will now only have one representative in Thomas Graham, who is a nonvoting member. Graham replaced Malcolm Augustine of Cheverly, who was elected last year as a state senator to represent District 47.
Prince George’s County Councilwoman Deni Taveras, who found out from a reporter Thursday about Crawford no longer being on the board, said Graham should be a voting member to ensure the county has equal representation.
“That’s a great loss to Prince George’s County when we have tied our economic growth to the growth of Metro,” Taveras said. “That’s evident in our investment in transit-oriented development. To not have a say in the matter when we have such a deep investment? That’s unacceptable.”
In the meantime, Rahn said the $55 million in capital funding the state withheld from Metro hasn’t changed.
Rahn wrote a letter July 1 to Metro’s board of directors explained one reason the money didn’t released for the next fiscal year because Maryland official believe the hasn’t provided a detailed account of its finances without a capital funding agreement in place. The state claims the funding mechanism “is a basic and necessary safeguard to hold the recipient of any grant funding responsible and accountable.”
Rahn said Thursday the state releases money to Metro quarterly, so another financial transaction is scheduled three months from July 1.
He said Metro officials are preparing a response to his letter.
“I think it will be worked out by then,” Rahn said.
Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld said he and Rahn met before Thursday’s committee meetings and that no capital projects are currently affected.
“There’s some issues we just have to clarify on both sides,” he said. “We’ll get through that pretty quickly.”