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State wants VRE vote



Date published: 1/18/2013

BY CHELYEN DAVIS AND SCOTT SHENK

A bill stemming from a rift between state officials and some Virginia Railway Express administrators is picking up steam in the state legislature.

The bill, approved Wednesday by a Senate committee, was introduced by Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Stafford County, and would add a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board to the VRE Operations Board. The VRE board now is made up of elected officials from localities that support the commuter rail service to Washington and one state public transportation department representative.

VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said giving the state more control over the commuter rail service "changes the whole dynamic of the relationship" and opens the door to state control of other Virginia transit organizations.

Stuart said the state helps pay for VRE, so it should have a fair say in its operation.

"The commonwealth of Virginia is one of the major contributors in funding to this group and as such we believe they should have an equal vote," he told the Senate Transportation Committee. "I think it's only fair and important that the secretary of transportation has a vote just like those other members do."

The VRE Operations Board is made up of officials from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Prince William, Fairfax and Arlington and one state member, from the Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

The bill would give the CTB chairman, or a designee, a spot on the VRE board. The new state representative's vote would be weighted, depending on how much state money goes to VRE in a given year.

But Stuart also referred to wanting a state voting representative because of "some issues that have arisen on the [VRE] board."


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