- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III yesterday said the name of the Metro subway station at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport should reflect the airport's official name.
"Well, that's the name of the airport, the Reagan airport, why wouldn't you change the name?" Mr. Gilmore said in response to a question on his monthly call-in show on WTOP Radio.
"Why doesn't Metro just change the signs so people know where the airport is and let's move on for heaven's sake."
In addition, the Republican governor said financing the estimated $400,000 sign makeover is a "legitimate issue," and he left open the door to Virginia repaying Metro for the cost of recasting the signs.
Mr. Gilmore, who is chairman of the Republican National Committee, yesterday said he hopes politics isn't playing a part in anyone's desires to "block people from calling the airport what it's called."
"Now, if there is some ideological opposition to the name Ronald Reagan, I think these people are kind of behind the times," Mr. Gilmore said, adding that he didn't want "to get in the middle of Metro politics."
Arlington County Supervisor Christopher E. Zimmerman, a Democrat and Metro board member, has vowed to stop any effort to change the current name of the signs, saying it wouldn't add any new information to them.
Mr. Zimmerman yesterday said it bothered him that Mr. Gilmore supports the request for a name change that was made by someone who doesn't even live in the state he represents.
"It's another unfunded mandate on local governments from the Gilmore administration and the Congress," Mr. Zimmerman said, noting that Mr. Gilmore was inaccurate in calling it "Reagan airport."
Mr. Zimmerman noted that the Virginia Department of Transportation's highway signs identifying "Reagan National Airport" are wrong and should be changed, "if you got to have the exact, accurate name."
Even if Mr. Gilmore were to lobby for funds for the name change, Mr. Zimmerman said he would still oppose it.
"My point was this has nothing to do with Ronald Reagan," Mr. Zimmerman said, adding that his interest is to keep the station's current name clear and concise.
The Washington Times first reported this month that Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, threatened to withhold Metro funding if the transit agency did not change the signs at all 83 subway stations, as well as maps and literature, to reflect the airport's name change.
President Clinton and Congress approved the airport's new name in 1997, and the change took effect the following year on Feb. 6 Mr. Reagan's birthday.
Since then, Metro has completed name changes on seven other stations, spending more than $713,000 to change the wording on signs, pylons and kiosks inside the rechristened stations in the District, Maryland and Virginia.
Metro estimates changing the signs only at the airport station would cost about $100,000. Updating stations on the Blue and Yellow lines, whose trains stop at Reagan National, would double that figure. Systemwide changes would cost about $400,000.
Metro officials have balked at changing the airport station's signs, noting that the jurisdictions served by the transit authority the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland have requested the changes and provided funds for them.
Congress, which created Metro as a regional transportation authority in 1967, has overview of the transit agency and can make similar requests. Metro receives federal funds via Congress' appropriation to the District as well as the Department of Transportation.
Congress has not provided funds for the Reagan National name change, which would force Metro to use $400,000 from its operation budget or Arlington County to pay for the change.
The Times first reported last week that Mr. Zimmerman and fellow Virginia Democrat Dana Kauffman, a Fairfax County supervisor and Metro board member, could issue a "jurisdictional veto" to nix the name change, even if the other four voting board members agree to it.
A "jurisdictional veto" occurs when two of the six voting Metro board members representing the same jurisdiction Virginia, Maryland or the District cast dissenting votes on an issue.
"I am confident that the board will come to feel that it would be a mistake to begin to [give in] to pressure," Mr. Zimmerman told The Times last week.
Mr. Kauffman has said he is keeping his options open and wants to consult with other legislators to "figure out how serious is the dollar issue" connected to Mr. Barr's threat.
The board's next meeting is scheduled for April 19.
Of the six Metro board members who have a vote, those who have registered their support for the name change include D.C. Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat; Decatur W. Trotter, a Democrat representing Maryland; and Cleatus E. Barnett, a Republican representing Maryland.
Board Chairman Gladys W. Mack, a Democrat who represents Mayor Anthony A. Williams, a Democrat, has not expressed an opinion.


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