May 4, 2013

Regarding the April 29 Metro article “Agencies were in loop on transit project”:

Nothing is more disagreeable in politics than watching elected officials in a round robin of finger-pointing when something goes wrong, especially in preparation for an election year.

Many questions remain unanswered about the Silver Spring Transit Center. Why did an initial county investment of $13 million balloon to a $120 million liability in less than a decade? Why were project labor agreements not used, as has been done quite successfully on many federal and D.C. projects? Was anyone ever really in charge?

An independent third party, with objectivity and new authority, must be brought in to coordinate the completion of this project and repair relations with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. A lack of public confidence in the current process and an absence of transparency and accountability, both with vendors and county government, make this next step a necessity.

It’s time to put the transit center project back on track. But that will not happen without fresh leadership to bring a fair analysis and an effective plan. Such leadership could earn new and respectful cooperation to fix the problem.

Duchy Trachtenberg, Bethesda

The writer, a Democrat, served on the Montgomery County Council from 2006 to 2010.

The Silver Spring Transit Center appears to be an unfortunate example of how not to manage a public works project. One question must be examined carefully: What operating costs would Montgomery County assume for the next 50 years if Metro declines to take over the center? Mismanagement that goes over budget and behind schedule is one problem, soon forgotten once the center is operating. But failure that leads to a new financial obligation on the entire county for generations is quite another.

Eric Hensal, Takoma Park