Silver Spring Transit Center may have to be rebuilt

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Rachel Baye

Fixing the construction errors at the Silver Spring Transit Center could require tearing the whole thing down and starting over, the director of Montgomery County's Department of General Services said.

That option is "the apocalyptic solution," David Dise said Wednesday.

On the other end of the spectrum, the cracks left by a concrete-pouring error by general contractor Foulger-Pratt and subcontractor Facchina Construction could be filled in and the underside of the facility reinforced. That solution would leave the bulk of the existing structure in place.

Those solutions and others are scheduled to be discussed at Thursday's meeting of the County Council Transportation, Infrastructure, Energy and Environment Committee, Dise said. Metro and Maryland Transit Administration officials -- both agencies' buses will use the facility's third-floor bus lanes -- have to reach an agreement with the county and Foulger-Pratt on how to proceed.

Representatives from Metro, Facchina and Foulger-Pratt did not return calls for comment. County Council President Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda, and chairman of the committee, declined to comment before the meeting.

None of the solutions are good, said Darian Unger, outgoing chairman of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board's Transportation and Pedestrian Safety Committee.

"There are so many costs to this thing going wrong, and I don't just mean the construction costs of fixing it," he said. "It sounds like some solutions would just leave us in a construction zone for years, and others would have residents and commuters having to deal with shoddy work and possibly more inconveniences down the line."

The error was discovered a few months ago when a county-commissioned consultant determined more than half of the concrete on the second and third floors of the three-story, $101 million structure is either too thick or too thin and does not meet county design specifications.

As a result, the facility -- previously expected to open last summer -- does not meet standards for Metro or the American Concrete Institute. Metro will not accept the facility as is, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said in January.

However, Foulger-Pratt's analysis, completed last month, found that the facility does meet ACI and Metro requirements. Though the facility does not match the county's requested design specifications, it is strong enough to withstand the weight it needs to, principal Brent Pratt says.

Dise's staff is reviewing Foulger-Pratt's data, Dise said.

If Foulger-Pratt and the county do not reach an agreement, the dispute may go to court, Berliner has said.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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