Northern Virginia officials are again battling the state over who gets to have a say in the fate of Metro. The Northern Virginia Transportation Commission sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell last week pushing against his desire to take over at least one of Virginia's four seats on the 14-person Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board. "These local members are willing to support appointment of a representative of the Commonwealth to the WMATA board, but not at the expense of current local representation," commission Chairman Bill Euille wrote in the letter dated Jan. 6.

Instead the commission members are proposing an "expanded" board of directors.

Separately, Alexandria officials have suggested the board expand to 17 members, with Virginia, Maryland and D.C. executives allowed to appoint one transit or management expert each.

But such a change could be difficult, requiring not only legislative approval in Virginia but also agreement and matching legislation in both D.C. and Maryland.

McDonnell's administration is already working with officials in Maryland and the District on other reforms to the Metro board that would require legislation. On Monday, their top transportation leaders released a two-year plan on how to improve the transit agency, specifically calling for change to how the board of directors runs the system. Expanding the board was not mentioned in their plan, though.

Virginia has four slots on the Metro board, chosen by the 20-person NVTC. Maryland and the District also each have four seats, and two are reserved for federal appointees named by the General Services Administration.

Typically the four Virginia seats are given to two elected Fairfax County officials, one Arlington politician and one elected official from the cities of Falls Church, Fairfax or Alexandria. The alternate seat currently held by Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay would be the most likely one to be given up because the county already has a second seat.

McKay said he's concerned about the state's push but not because he could lose his seat. He said that local elected officials can lobby their peers for additional funding, as they have done in recent lean years to fill Metro budget gaps. But he said it would be difficult for one state representative to lobby the whole General Assembly.

The letter is the latest in months-long fight. In June, Metro and Virginia began a game of high-stakes chicken after McDonnell threatened to withhold $50 million from the transit agency in the final days of budget negotiations unless the state was able to appoint two of the four Virginia representatives to Metro's board. The state ultimately agreed to cough up the money on the promise that its proposal would be reconsidered. An agreement is expected to be reached by April.