Leggett takes “full responsibility” for Transit Center

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett realizes that the road to his re-election in 2014 will have to pass through the Silver Spring Transit Center. While the troubled $120 million project has a lifespan that stretches back into the administration of one of his opponents, former County Executive Doug Duncan, he has apparently decided to deal with it by taking full ownership.

“I accept full responsibility because it happened on my watch,” he said Wednesday on NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt. “Even though the consultants said it was the responsibility of the designers, the architects and the engineers, I’m the county executive. I accept responsibility.”

Leggett has never actually ducked responsibility for the problem-plagued bus-and-train hub. But as a newly announced candidate for a third term, he’s been sharpening his message. He said that the center could have opened a year-and-a-half ago, had he chosen to accept general contractor Foulger-Pratt’s proposal for fixing cracks in the concrete.

“We decided to go forward and look further,” he said, referring to the decision to hire an independent engineering consultant to do a full diagnostic of the three-level oval structure. The report by KCE found that issues with the building went beyond cracks.

“I was not prepared to accept the center or open the center with the problems we’ve had,” he said.

Repairs are expected to begin next month. Leggett also said he is confident that Metro will assume control of the facility when it is completed, despite recent statements from top officials that it might be too much of a financial risk because of construction and design deficiencies.

“What they’re trying to do is negotiate better terms and conditions,” he said. “We play all this out in sort of a Kabuki dance in public. But I think ultimately they will accept it.”

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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