The complex, at Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue, has yet to open.
“Montgomery County is the owner of this project,” Bryant Foulger, a principal of the firm, said in one of his first extensive interviews on the transit center. “They have the responsibility to figure out what needs to be done and hire the architect, engineers and consultants to meet the codes.”
In a long-awaited report released March 19, independent engineering experts said they had discovered problems with the transit center that included insufficiently strong concrete and inadequate steel reinforcement.
With its costs estimated at $112 million and its opening more than two years behind schedule, the transit center, in the heart of downtown Silver Spring, has become a very public mess. County officials and contractors have been trading blame, and Metro, which is supposed to operate the complex, has said it could reject the structure if it’s not satisfied with the fixes.
The interview with Foulger, held in the firm’s Rockville headquarters and attended by his lawyer and an outside public relations consultant, was the company’s most forceful attempt yet to deflect criticism of its role in the troubled project.
“They put the blame on just about everybody they could find without accepting responsibility that they’re managing the design and construction of this project,” Foulger said.
Asked to respond to the company’s assertions, John Markovs, the county lawyer overseeing the fallout from the project, said Thursday that Foulger’s criticism was “obfuscation.”
“That’s another attempt by Foulger-Pratt to shift blame for defective construction onto the county.”
The cost of fixing the problems and finishing the project are uncertain, and the stakes for the county and the company are significant.
For the county, the delays are an embarrassing distraction as officials try to accelerate economic development, particularly around transit hubs such as Silver Spring. For the company, the negative publicity could threaten its reputation across the region.
The concrete and steel structure is envisioned as a hub for cabs, bikes, MARC trains and Metro’s rail and bus services. Its construction has been a complex undertaking because it has three levels that each must be able to bear the weight of large buses.
The project is millions of dollars over budget, and the report by KCE Structural Engineers assigned blame to several players in the project.
KCE said there were “errors and omissions” by the designer, Parsons Brinckerhoff; the general contractor, Foulger-Pratt; an inspections firm, Robert B. Balter Co.; and other subcontractors.