Calling it an “eyesore” in the midst of downtown Silver Spring, former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is calling on the county government to provide answers on the stalled construction of the Silver Spring Transit Center project.
The facility was originally scheduled to open in 2011, but construction defects have led to delays and cost overruns that have made the $120 million project at the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring a sore point for county politicians and residents alike.
The public deserves answers about when the facility will open, a detailed plan to fix the problems and how much they will cost and whether the project will be safe when it does open, Duncan said Thursday at a press conference outside the fenced-off transit center site.
“It’s time for answers,” Duncan said.
Duncan is challenging County Executive Isiah Leggett and Councilman Philip M. Andrews (Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg in the Democratic primary for the office that Duncan held from 1994-2006. Republican Jim Shalleck of Montgomery Village is also running for executive.
The county has suffered from “paralysis by analysis” on the project, with a focus more on assessing blame for the project than fixing what’s wrong, Duncan said.
The county commissioned KCE Structural Engineers of Washington, D.C., to conduct an analysis that found serious flaws with the project, county spokesman Patrick Lacefield said.
“The detailed plan is the KCE report,” Lacefield said.
He said the county has moved forward on the project with due diligence, and won’t open it until the problems are fixed.
“We understand that people want it open, and nobody wants it open more than we do,” Lacefield said.
Crews are waiting for warmer weather so they can apply a concrete overlay designed to fix varying concrete thickness and cracking in the structure.
The latex-modified concrete used in the overlay requires temperatures consistently above 40 degrees before it can be applied.
The transit center issue also came up during a forum of the county executive candidates held by the Montgomery County Renters Alliance on March 5.
Leggett said that he would open the center when he’s satisfied that it’s safe, and wouldn’t make a “politically expedient” decision on the issue.
Leggett campaign manager Scott Goldberg echoed that message Thursday, saying Leggett would open the center once it’s been completed properly, whether that’s before the election or after.
Other candidates criticized the execution of the project, with Andrews calling it the “biggest fiasco in the county’s building history,” a line similar to one he used in a November council discussion of the project.
The county has to figure out what went wrong with the project and make sure it doesn’t happen again, he said.
Shalleck called for a federal grand jury investigation into the project to determine what went wrong.
David Dise, head of the county’s Department of General Services, said recently that there was no fixed date for the structure to be opened, and he expects to update the council on its status in early April.
Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist. 1) of Bethesda, the chairman of the council’s Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy & Environment Committee, said on March 5 that the center should be ready sometime in the summer or early fall.