May 24, 2013

Where does one start in assessing the white elephant that Montgomery County has gifted to Silver Spring? Based on the May 21 front-page article “Silver Spring’s delayed dream,” a number of thoughts come to mind:

When multiple agencies are involved, it is important to create a committee of representatives from each agency, and charge it with expediting concerns and finding solutions. The scope of work must be established and followed, with only minor changes. A complicated project may be broken into phases. Time benchmarks must be identified and met, with room for minor adjustments. That this project was proposed 23 years ago is a testament to a failure or lack of these requirements, and it is a prime contributor to cost estimates that ran wild.

Was independent peer review of the project documents required during design?

As regards problems during construction, one has to ask, was there a pre-bid meeting to address some of the “ambiguous and inconsistent” elements of the project documents before the bid was awarded? Where were the county inspectors when concrete was discovered, after the fact, to be too thin? Could the lack of slip joints have been identified earlier, perhaps by peer review? Was a special inspections meeting held prior to beginning construction? Such a meeting would have included an independent consultant to review structural shop drawings and perform other inspections and testing.

Unfortunately, this project appears to be a prime case study of how not to plan and execute a successful project. Litigation will undoubtedly ensue and last for years.

Don Greenwood, Vienna