Silver Spring Transit Center has new opening date — again — but will it be ready?

October 13, 2012

The saga of the Silver Spring Transit Center may be coming to an end. Or not.

Montgomery County officials said this past week that the long-awaited transit hub, already two years behind schedule and now expected to cost $112 million, will be open by September. But whether the county will meet that deadline is anyone’s guess.

At a Montgomery County Council meeting Thursday, county officials said they are close to resolving the structural issues with the transit center, which was put on hold in January after construction workers found problems with the concrete flooring.

When completed, the building, at Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue, will bring Metro, MARC, Ride On, taxis, intercity buses and other transportation options to a single site in downtown Silver Spring.

Construction began in September 2008, but work was delayed for more than a year because of problems with moving utility lines, county officials said.

Crews started pouring the concrete in fall 2010. Within weeks, they started seeing problems, according to e-mails, contractor Foulger-Pratt’s logs and meeting minutes obtained by The Washington Post through public-records requests to the county and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

The concrete issue became public last December, when County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) brought it up in response to a resident’s question at a town hall meeting in Bethesda. Caught off-guard, the County Council held a closed session in January to discuss the structure and talked publicly about possible legal action. Foulger-Pratt fired back, calling the public comments “premature and likely incorrect.” The company said the building was structurally sound.

Since then, the county and company have been unable to agree on how to fix the concrete. They brought in a consultant, KCE Structural Engineers, which will recommend a solution within the next few months, David Dise, the county’s general services director, said Thursday.

If all goes smoothly, construction workers would start working on the concrete fix in April and complete construction in July, Dise said. The transit authority’s approval of the building, which usually takes up to two months, would also be required.

Installation of concrete at Silver Spring Transit Center

But no one is planning a ribbon-cutting just yet. In recent years, county officials have pushed back the opening date at least a dozen times. Moreover, the rest of the plans for the site, including a hotel, offices and residences, will not be completed for years. And, Dise said, attorneys for the county and others are scrutinizing records to see whether anyone should be sued.

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