Silver Spring Transit Center ‘severely compromised’ -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. on March 19, 2013.

The Silver Spring Transit Center is “severely compromised” in its current state, requiring extensive remediations, according to a engineering consultant’s report released Tuesday.

The 100-page report prepared by Washington, D.C.-based KCE Structural Engineers found serious problems with the design, construction, concrete strength, concrete testing accuracy and adherence to fire codes at the center.

According to David Dise, county director of general services, the structure, as built, would only last 13 years due to structural damage and water damage and without the KCE engineering report, safety issues would be unknown until a potentially dangerous incident occurred.

County Executive Isiah Leggett Tuesday called the fixes at the Silver Spring Transit Center “a very serious matter which involves the safety of potential users that simply cannot be ignored.”

He could not give a definite date on when the center will open.

The report did include fixes that will make the center “safe and functional.”

“We do note, as stated in the executive summary, in our professional opinion and with reasonable degree of engineering certainty, the building can safely support the current construction-phase loading and with the conceptual remediations and completed as outlined herein after remediation documents are prepared, can safely carry the full code and WMATA required loads,” according to the report.

Dise said everything “can be fixed, will be fixed,” adding that when it’s done, the county can “point to a landmark facility that is handling a massive volume of traffic.”

It is not yet clear the cost of those remediations or the time frame to get them done.

According to the report, the center’s issues are caused “in varying degrees by errors and omissions” of the project designer, Parsons Brinkerhoff; the contractor, Foulger-Pratt Contracting, LLC and its subcontractors; and the inspection and materials testing firm and special inspections program special inspector, The Robert B. Balter Company.

In a response to the report, Foulger-Pratt said, “The way in which this report was developed, however, is indicative of the county’s conduct throughout this entire process. Everyone in this community — including us — has been waiting for more than a year for the county to act. During that time, we made numerous requests for meetings between our engineers and the county’s engineers in order to sit down, as professionals, address any concerns and more forward for the benefit of the community.

“The county consistently refused to allow any porfessional dialogue. Instead, taxpayers were forced to pay for a $2 million report conducted without any input from us or our engineers. If only the county had been willing to work cooperatively the Transit Center would have been open by now for the benefit of everyone in Montgomery County.”

The Montgomery County Council met in closed session Tuesday afternoon to discuss potential litigation regarding the Silver Spring Transit Center after receiving the report.

The council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee also met Tuesday to discuss the $7.5 million supplemental appropriation that Leggett requested for the project.

The money is an amendment to the six-year Capital Improvement Program that will go toward more stormwater management measures not in the original scope of work of the project, utility relocation costs, site improvements, costs to continue operation of the bus interim operations site used by Ride On and Metrobus, county staff and consultant costs, and legal costs, according to an email from Esther Bowring, public information officer for Montgomery County.

The KCE remediation report is available to the public on the Department of General Services website.

The groundbreaking for the $112 million project on the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring was in 2008, and the center was expected to open in 2011. A series of cracks found in the middle and upper levels of the structure and disparities in the thickness of the structure have delayed the project’s opening by nearly two years. It later was slated to open by the fall of 2013.

Montgomery County paid $1.535 million of the $1.785 million allocated in the budget for the report from KCE Structural Engineers.

Once it is open, the transit center will be a three-level, state-of-the-art transit hub that connects MARC commuter trains, Metro, taxis, and Ride On and intercity buses.