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Maryland puts $25 million toward capacity building on Washington metro system

Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged $25 million in state capital funding to add capacity and reduce crowding on the metro system of Washington on Wednesday, as part of a joint investment with Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Maryland's two neighboring jurisdictions each pledged the same amount, for a total of $75 million toward the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's long term "Momentum" strategic plan, which sets growth goals for the year 2025.

The funding, from the state's transportation trust fund, is in addition to the $430 million — $285.6 in operating annual operating funding and $144.4 million in capital funding — that Maryland is already providing to the system for fiscal year 2015, said Erin Henson, a Maryland Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

That annual amount is up from $236 million in 2007. Henson said much of the increase in funding in recent years has gone toward enhancing safety on the system.

Virginia and the District of Columbia provide similar annual capital and operating funding.

Richard Sarles, the metro system's CEO, said the new funding will be used to continue "rebuilding efforts and lay the foundation for all eight-car trains, with power upgrades, Union Station and Gallery Place station expansion designs, and buses for priority corridors."

The funding was announced at a National Capital Regional Meeting in Arlington, where O'Malley met with D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The meeting was the first between the three Democrats since McAuliffe took office last month.

Multiple lines of Washington's metro system, which officials say provides 2.3 million trips a year, reach into some of Maryland's most densely populated suburbs.

Metro officials have said their plans are geared toward "coming regional population and economic growth" that will increase demand on the transit service.

The Momentum strategic plan was approved by the Metro Board in June 2013.

Sarles called the $75 million commitment "a critical installment" of funding for Metro's capital program.

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