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Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on a Rapid Transit Program for the Nation's Capital.

February 10, 1965

Dear Mr. President: (Dear Mr. Speaker:)

I am transmitting to the Congress herewith, with my approval, a report submitted to me by the National Capital Transportation Agency on February 1, 1965, entitled "Rail Rapid Transit for the Nation's Capital," and a proposed bill which would authorize the Agency to proceed with the transit development program described in that report. In preparing the proposed bill I have given full consideration to improvements that have been suggested to earlier bills.

The problem of mass transportation in the Washington area is critical. It is also a problem in which the Federal Government has a unique interest and responsibility. As Congress found in the National Capital Transportation Act of 1960, an improved transportation system for this area "is essential for the continued and effective performance of the functions of the Government of the United States, for the welfare of the District of Columbia, for the orderly growth and development of the National Capital region, and for the preservation of the beauty and dignity of the Nation's Capital".

There is widespread agreement that a high-speed and high-capacity rail transit system operating over separate rights-of-way through the more densely populated sections of the Washington metropolitan area provides the most promising approach to a long-range solution. Such a system will preserve the beauty, the dignity, and the historic and monumental character of our capital city. It will exercise a desirable influence on the pattern of growth of the metropolitan area. And such a system is vital if we are to achieve the goal of a balanced transportation system for the area. The highway network now proposed for the area is predicated on an adequate rail transit system.

The report and proposed bill which I am transmitting provide for a system which will furnish the Washington area greatly improved transit service and which can later be expanded to the total system eventually needed. The National Capital Transportation Act of 1960 authorized the negotiation of an interstate compact under which the District would join with Maryland and Virginia in creating an appropriate organization to develop a total system for the area. My hope remains firm that such a compact organization can be brought into being at an early date. In the meantime, however, work on the present proposals can and should go forward without delay.

The Agency estimates, based on engineering studies carried on over the past five years, that to construct and equip the system which it proposes will cost $431 million, excluding interest costs. The proposed bill authorizes the appropriation of $150 million--$100 million by the Federal Government and $50 million by the District. With these grants, system revenues will be sufficient to provide for both operating expenses and the balance of the capital costs. The grants will also supply all the funds needed for construction until near the end of fiscal year 1968. By that time I hope that there will be a suitable regional compact agency which can assume the responsibility for issuance and sale of the revenue bonds needed to meet the remainder of the cost. If such a compact agency is not timely created, I will be prepared to present alternative recommendations in time for the Congress to give full consideration to the course to be pursued.

The National Capital area should no longer be denied the forms of urban transportation which are vital to its welfare. The proposed program is an appropriate beginning-indeed, a long step toward the total transportation needs of the area. I hope that the Congress will give prompt and favorable consideration to the legislation which is needed to get the program under way.



Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Hubert H. Humphrey, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The National Capital Transportation Agency's report entitled "Rail Rapid Transit for the Nation's Capital" (40 pp-, dated January 1965) was made available by the Agency.

On September 8 the President approved the National Capital Transportation Act of 1965 authorizing the prosecution of a transit development program for the National Capital region (Public Law 89-173, 79 Stat. 663).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on a Rapid Transit Program for the Nation's Capital. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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