- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 6, 2002

Metro will install this weekend the first signs bearing the full name of the stop at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport four years after Congress renamed the airport in honor of the former president.
"We had made a commitment to have the signs at the airport changed by the end of the spring, but we are slightly faster on track than that, and all the signs at that stop will be changed this coming weekend," Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said.
Rep. Bob Barr, Georgia Republican, who pressured Metro officials for the name change for more than a year, expressed relief and satisfaction that his efforts have succeeded.
"I am pleased Metro will follow the law and finally recognize the lawful name of the airport," Mr. Barr said yesterday. "The federal government appropriates hundreds of millions of dollars each year to Metro, and the very least we should expect is recognition of a federal law passed almost four years ago and signed by President Clinton."
Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, whose district includes the airport, criticized the name change as a federal imposition on a local jurisdiction, saying Mr. Reagan likely would have argued against the name change.
"The majority of my colleagues feel that we should spare no expense in political symbolism," Mr. Moran said yesterday. "If Ronald Reagan were able to, he would be asking them not to do this, because it is wholeheartedly contrary to what he stood for."
This weekend, Metro will change the name on signs and maps only at the airport's subway stop on the Blue and Yellow lines. All Metro signs and maps will be updated to include the new station name in 2004, when the New York Avenue station on the Red Line opens. All future Metro publications, maps and signs will bear the new name.
"We thought this was a good compromise," said Mr. Feldmann, adding that the cost for the initial change is about $100,000.
Congress passed a law in 1997 to rename the airport in honor of the 40th president. The change took effect Feb. 6, 1998 Mr. Reagan's 87th birthday and the granite sign in front of the airport was modified quickly to comply with the federal law.
The Washington Times first reported in October 2000 that Metro had no intention of renaming the subway station to reflect the official name of the airport. Since the name change became law, Metro had renamed seven other stations across the region at a cost of $713,000.
Officials said Metro policy allows changes to station names only at the request of the jurisdiction where the stop is located. The localities in Virginia, Maryland and the District that requested changes also paid the costs for changing the station names.
No one from Arlington County, where the Reagan Airport stop is located, had ever requested a name change, Mr. Feldmann said.
Congress pressured Metro officials last year and passed legislation forcing them to change the name but did not allocate any money for the change. Metro is paying for the change out of its general operating budget.
"It was an unfunded mandate," Mr. Feldmann said. "They said we are to do this, and will do it, but it's from our own money."


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