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Md. grants West Virginia a MARC reprieve, but clock is ticking

November 6th, 2019 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia officials scrambling to cobble together the funds needed to keep MARC train service running to the state’s Eastern Panhandle have been granted some extra time by the state of Maryland. But Hogan administration officials are signaling their patience won’t last forever.

“I was talking to the West Virginia DOT today to find out where they are,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete K. Rahn told state lawmakers in Montgomery County on Monday. “They’ve asked for another week to resolve this in a conversation with their governor.”

For several decades MDOT has run MARC trains to Martinsburg, Duffields and Harpers Ferry in West Virginia without compensation. But two years ago the Hogan administration began pressing the Mountaineer State to pony up the $3.5 million it says Maryland taxpayers spend to provide that service.

The demand has set off a scramble for the West Virginia legislature, Gov. Jim Justice (R) and the communities served by the Maryland commuter line to piece together that money.

According to West Virginia state Del. John Doyle (D), a top Justice aide recently agreed that — if the communities served by MARC could come up with $300,000 between them — the state would provide the rest.

“We sat down and we parceled it out by population,” Doyle said. “Berkeley County has come up with their allotted $170,000. The city of Martinsburg has come up with its allowed $25,000. Charles Town has come up with its allotted $8,800. Ranson, it’s allotted $7,700. Bolivar its allotted $1,500. And Harper’s Ferry, which was allotted $410, has come up with $2,500.”

Only Jefferson County has yet to sign-off on its portion of the tab, the lawmaker said. At a meeting last week, members of the County Commission voted to come up with $40,000 to keep MARC trains running, less than half of the $82,500 it was due to pay under the formula.

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