Contractor denies concrete error at Silver Spring Transit Center

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Rachel Baye

The Silver Spring Transit Center does not have the structural deficiencies the county claims, general contractor Foulger-Pratt said in a new analysis.

A study by a county-commissioned consultant determined that more than half of the concrete on the second and third floors of the three-story facility is either too thick or too thin, the county announced last month, and the under-construction structure does not meet the standards for Metro or the American Concrete Institute.

As a result, large sections of the $101 million project planned to hold bus bays for Metro, Montgomery County Ride On and Maryland Transit Administration buses likely will have to be rebuilt, further delaying the opening of a facility scheduled to open a year ago.

However, Foulger-Pratt's analysis found that the facility meets both American Concrete Institute and Metro structural requirements, said principal Brent Pratt, who called the county's analysis "flawed."

"We are very certain there's no structural problem," he said. "The load they're using [to test the structure's strength] is about twice as heavy as actual buses. They're underestimating the strength of the structure ... by about half."

While the structure might not meet some of the estimates created during the design process, it does withstand the weight it needs to be able to withstand and does not need to be strengthened, the report argues.

Facchina Construction Co., the subcontractor responsible for pouring the concrete, agreed with Foulger-Pratt's assessment, Facchina President Paul Facchina said in a letter enclosed in the report.

The county stands by its belief that the facility is not structurally sound.

"The specification was quite clear. It was direct," said David Dise, director of the Department of General Services. "Foulger-Pratt needs to comply with that."

Metro also has said it will not accept the structure as-is, though spokesman Dan Stessel declined to comment on Foulger-Pratt's analysis.

The county has publicly insisted that Foulger-Pratt cover the costs of repairing the structure and any costs associated with the delays resulting from the error -- a requirement in Foulger-Pratt's contract with the county, according to Dise -- and has said it will not accept any plan that keeps the defective concrete in place.

But the county cannot require Foulger-Pratt to move forward with modifications that will be fiscally wasteful, the firm wrote, and the county's arguments that the error will affect the project's ability to move forward as planned are also flawed.

Foulger-Pratt will make a full presentation of its findings this week, Pratt said.

If the county and the contractor cannot come to an agreement, the county likely will take the matter to court, County Council President Roger Berliner said last month.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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