This is nothing more than an educated guess, but if investigators were to dust the Obama administration's new policy for funding transit projects, they would likely find former Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari's fingerprints all over it. The new policy allows the federal government to  give  more weight to such matters  as "livability," the environment and economic development in choosing which projects  to fund.

No disrespect  to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, but it is Porcari -- now the No. 2 official in the federal department -- who brought to the administration a deep experience with the  Bush administration's rigid cost-benefits formula for funding transit. As Maryland secretary, Porcari oversaw the Maryland Transit Administration's struggles to keep Baltimore Red Line project within the old formula -- which didn't allow much room  for accommodating the desires of the affected neighborhoods.

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The payoff for Maryland in having an alumnus helping to craft federal decisions is that future policy could be more friendly to urban states such as Maryland. But  it is doubtful whether Porcari could play much of a role in decisions about projects already in the decision-making pipeline. The Red Line will have to stand or fall based on its own merits.

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