CHICAGO - The head of the St. Louis-area public transit system Larry Salci yesterday resigned, a move that came less than a week after the agency failed in its legal efforts to recoup $81 million in cost overruns from the original designers of a rail expansion project. St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley announced Salci’s resignation as president and chief executive officer of Metro, formally known as the Bi-State Development Agency of Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, yesterday at a news conference. Sources said Dooley called Salci, who was hired in 2002, Wednesday night and requested that he step down. An interim manager is expected to be named soon. At the news conference, Dooley cited the trial loss as a significant factor behind Salci’s departure. Metro is under the gun to quickly improve its image — which was hurt by charges of mismanagement of the rail expansion —- as voters in February will decide on an increase of the local sales tax by one-half cent to provide additional operational and capital funds for transit. The agency sold $400 million of revenue bonds in 2002 to finance its rail expansion, and because of $126 million in cost overruns, it had to return to the market in 2005. The agency partially blamed the Cross County Collaborative joint venture, which designed the plans and managed the expansion project initially, for some of the cost overruns and sued the group for $81 million. The agency had planned to use money recouped from the suit to retire some portion of the 2005 debt. A jury last week rejected the claims and sided with the CCC in its efforts to recoup payments owed to it by Metro.

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