- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

On Feb. 6, 1998, President Clinton signed legislation officially changing the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan National Airport. The National Park Service initially ignored the law and declined to post new road signs nearby to reflect the name change. After Congress threatened to intervene, Park officials acquiesced. Today, nearly all road signs, maps and pertinent literature reflect the name change but not all. Metro, the Washington region's public transit authority, has yet to catch up. It still calls its station on the Blue-Yellow Line Washington National Airport, the name Virginians designated when that segment of the rail line opened.

Metro says it would have changed the name by now if its Virginia board members had so requested. D.C. and Maryland members have made such changes, and Metro has too, charging related costs to the requesting jurisdiction. Virginia requested several name changes as well, including West Fall Church to West Falls Church-Virginia Tech/University of Virginia.

Because Virginia's Metro board members have refused to update the signs to reflect the airport's new name, Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, is drafting legislation mandating it.

"What we normally do is an inventory on signage and maps," Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann told this page yesterday. "If the legislation says only to change the signs at the airport alone, the costs would be up to $100,000. If we have to do all stations up and down the Blue and Yellow Line then we're probably talking about $200,000. If the bill says all maps, and all signs and all literature then that price tag could get up to close to $300,000. In the letter we sent to members of Congress we asked that there be some funding included."

Of course, some Northern Virginia Democrats, including Rep. Jim Moran and Metro board member Christopher Zimmerman of Arlington County, oppose the name change and resent congressional intervention. But Ronald Reagan National Airport is owned by the federal government although it is regionally operated. Congress has oversight responsibility of the airport and has chosen to exercise it quite reasonably in this case. If Congress pays its share of the name change, Virginia should too.

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