Montgomery County Taxpayers League, a group that has kept mum on the Silver Spring Transit Center to date, got a private briefing Thursday from the county’s Director of General Services, David Dise, on the project.
Yale Wiesberg of Gaithersburg, league treasurer said the group wanted to be educated on the issue.
Max Bronstein of Silver Spring, a member of the league’s board, said “We like to get together and get more information instead of just being critical.”
For two hours Thursday evening, Dise fielded questions from about nine members of the league who queried him on a range of issues, from how the debacle came to pass to what has the county learned and many in between.
The nearly $120 million transit hub project on the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring was expected to open in 2011, but a series of cracks and disparities in the thickness of the concrete at the center delayed the project’s opening by nearly two years so far, and it’s unclear when the center will be open for business.
A mix of direct and indirect costs have escalated the project’s price tag, Dise said, but he refuted reports that it has risen by as much as $80 million, saying that number refers to an older concept of the plan that was not what was ultimately designed and built.
As to the center’s issues, Dise said the county knows what the problem is, but how it came about has yet to be fully answered.
And as it works on remediation, he said the no more taxpayer money will be spent.
League members were not so certain.
“I’m worried about the financial status of this county,” Warren Manison of Potomac said. “They’re spending money like crazy without looking to see the long-term implications.”
Information Dise presented did not change perceptions of the project among some of the league’s members, they said.
“Before coming to this meeting, I said this thing is screwed up on many, many levels: the design of it was very difficult and complicated, they were trying to make it show place and it’s a work place,” Bronstein said. “Having been through this and heard from Mr. Dise, who is very well spoken, for two hours, I don’t have a different opinion, but I feel better that I know…the point is they realize the problems and they’re going to fix them. But is it going to cost us more money? Apparently there were mess-ups at many steps.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Manison said. “Who’s minding the store?”
On a list of questions passed out with the meeting’s agenda, the league also asked Dise for a list of the projects that had cost overruns of more than $10 million in the last three years.