- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Rep. Todd Tiahrt will introduce an amendment to a massive transportation funding bill today that will force Metro to change the name of its subway stop at the Ronald Reagan Washington National airport.
"They have a responsibility to make it accurate," Mr. Tiahrt, Kansas Republican and a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told The Washington Times. "There is no reason for them not to change it."
Mr. Tiahrt added that he "is not convinced" that Metro needs any further funding to rename the Blue and Yellow line National Airport subway stop to reflect the official name of the airport.
Metro officials have said it could cost about $400,000 to change the name of the station and all maps and literature.
Mr. Tiahrts amendment to the $59 billion transportation bill would order Metro to change the station name, as well as all maps, documents and literature so it "clarifies" the subway stop and complies with a federal law, which mandated the airports name be changed in honor of the 40th president.
The airports name was changed Feb. 6, 1998 — Mr. Reagans birthday — and the granite sign in front of the airport in Arlington was modified soon after to reflect compliance with the federal law.
Metro has made a plethora of changes to its signs and maps along the 25-year-old subway system within the last few years. But Mr. Tiahrt said Metro has repeatedly refused to change the name of the airport subway stop, even though it was changing or adding names of other stations, such as when the five-station Green Line extension opened Jan. 13.
If the full committee approves it during todays mark-up session, as expected, the full House could vote on the transportation funding bill — with the amendment — within the next two weeks, House aides said.
"Once it gets in the House bill, it has a very strong chance of getting passed," one senior House aide said of the stations renaming fate in the Senate.
The Senate could take action on a transportation appropriations bill by July, Senate sources said, adding that they dont "expect a fight" over the station renaming when the House and Senate meet in conference committee in the fall to resolve differences.
One House source said Mr. Tiahrt also has spoken with the committee chairman, Rep. C.W. Bill Young, Florida Republican, about the amendment being offered and has gotten the chairmans support.
The Times first reported last October that Metro had no intention of renaming the airport Metro station, and Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican, was considering offering a bill to force Metro to make the name change. Mr. Young, new chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also considered adding $150,000 to his bill for Metro, which was created by Congress in 1967, to revamp the stations signage.
This past March, Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, requested that Metros board of directors make the name change. After several letters from Mr. Barr and 22 other Republicans sent letters requesting the renaming, but in April, the board — led by Metro and Arlington County Board member Christopher E. Zimmerman — refused to even take up the matter at a board meeting, thereby leaving it up to Congress to rename the station.
Mr. Tiahrt said the board showed "arrogance" in "thwarting the will of the people" in that Congress had ordered the airports name to be changed along with other signage pertaining to it.
"Its time for them to stop being political," Mr. Tiahrt said. "[Metro] has renamed other Metro stops and has not asked for additional funds from Congress."
Indeed, over the last three years, Metro has spent $713,000 to change the wording on signs, pylons, and kiosks at renamed stations in the District, Virginia, and Maryland.
Mr. Zimmerman, a Democrat, said a successful effort by a member of Congress outside of the area to force Metro to make a change could set an unwanted precedent.
"This is not an appropriate matter for federal involvement," he said.
Another critic of the renaming efforts, Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat and a member of the Appropriations Committee, said Mr. Tiahrt is unnecessarily meddling in local affairs
"I think it is misguided. I dont think that this is what Ronald Reagan stood for. Its wrongheaded and in complete contradiction as to what his legacy was in terms of local control," Mr. Moran said.

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