- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 1, 2001

Metro officials said yesterday they will rename its National Airport stop to reflect the official name of the airport Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The announcement came yesterday after the House passed a $59 billion transportation funding bill that includes an amendment ordering Metro to change the airport's name on all signs, maps and literature throughout the 103-mile subway system.
"We will comply with any law that's passed by Congress," said Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann. "Now, it's just a question of how quickly we will be able to change the name."
The bill, which passed 371-11, does not include the estimated $410,000 Metro has said it needs to change the Blue and Yellow line station's name in its signs. The Senate next week is expected to pass the bill, which is the result of a House-Senate conference.
Mr. Feldmann said the bill does not specify a time frame for when the changes should take place, which means the agency could take its time in making them.
"We'll look at doing this in a cost-conscious phase-in approach," Mr. Feldmann said. "Not in a way that will force us to spend taxpayer money all at once."
Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, said he voted for the bill but opposed the federal meddling in local affairs. Mr. Moran said he would have rather allowed Metro to change the name in 2004, when the new Red Line station opens on New York Avenue and when Metro will have to revamp all its signs.
"It made more sense to wait," Mr. Moran said.
The Washington Times first reported in October 2000 that Metro had no intention of renaming the airport station, prompting Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican and chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to consider offering a bill to force Metro to make the change. Mr. Young's bill was never offered.
Congress passed a law in 1997 to rename the airport in honor of Mr. Reagan. The change took place Feb. 6, 1998 the 40th president's birthday. As a result, the granite sign in front of the airport in Arlington was modified soon after to reflect compliance with the federal law.
But no changes had been made at the Metro station at the airport or any other stops.
Meanwhile, Metro has renamed seven other stations at a cost of $713,000, paid for by the localities in Virginia, Maryland and the District that requested the change.
Earlier this year, 23 Republican House members, including Reps. Bob Barr of Georgia and House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, asked the agency's board of directors, which is tasked with renaming stations, to make the change. Board members had said they needed money to do that.
In June, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, Kansas Republican, introduced an amendment to the transportation funding bill that would force Metro to change the name. However, the bill did not include giving Metro any money to do it.
"Metro gets millions of dollars from taxpayers that could help pay for the changes," Tiahrt spokesman Chuck Knapp said. "So it wasn't deemed necessary to include any funding."
The changes will be made at Reagan Airport and on the pylons at the 29 other Blue and Yellow line stations, on maps inside the 764 rail cars and on maps at its 83 stations.
In a statement released last night, Mr. Barr said he was pleased with the bill and Metro's announcement that it will change the name.
"It is disappointing, however, Congress has again been forced to act on an issue that, quite simply, should have been standard operating procedure for the Metro board, and which should have been done three years ago," Mr. Barr said. "Entities that receive hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars should not allow the partisan views of its leadership to be the deciding factor in which laws they will or will not follow."
Mr. Barr said he would not have a problem if Metro waited until 2004 to make the name change throughout the system.
"While I firmly believe the station name at the airport should be changed immediately, unless there is another system-wide change before 2004 when the New York Avenue station is scheduled to open, that would be an appropriate time to finally recognize the lawful name of the airport systemwide," he said.

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