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updated: 8/6/2013 4:33 PM

Durbin asks for federal oversight of Metra safety

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Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is asking federal transportation officials to provide special oversight of Metra as it deals with "serious management and financial challenges."

In a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration Tuesday, the Illinois Democrat says he wants to ensure the commuter rail system operates safely and efficiently.

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Durbin says he's concerned a lack of permanent leadership at Metra "creates a situation where accountability is hard to find and priorities like safety could become neglected." He says Metra will receive more than $135 million in federal funds this year.

Four Metra board members have resigned in recent weeks amid criticism of a $718,000 buyout of ousted Metra CEO Alex Clifford and allegations of political patronage. Durbin notes the board doesn't have enough members to name a permanent executive director.

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