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Montgomery County inspector general to investigate Silver Spring Transit Center

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Local,Maryland,Transportation,Kate Jacobson,Metro,Montgomery County

The Montgomery County inspector general is investigating the Silver Spring Transit Center after council members requested $100,000 be put toward examining the center's construction errors.

Inspector General Ed Blansitt responded to a memo from Councilman Hans Riemer, D-at large, asking for the money, saying his office has been looking into issues surrounding the $120 million Silver Spring Transit Center and has concluded there is enough concern to begin a full investigation.

"We're getting to the point where we really need to start lining up the resources that would require some external assistance [in our investigation]," Blansitt said. "At this point ... I realized it was time for us to do something."

The council members' request for the investigation comes one day before a briefing about the center that the council requested with County Executive Ike Leggett after Metro said it would not take over the defect-laden structure once it opens. Leggett does not plan to attend the meeting because of scheduling conflicts, spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Tuesday.

The center, which was scheduled to open more than two years ago, is stalled because of structural problems discovered in January 2011. A report released earlier this year showed cracks in the concrete and poor construction of the center made it unsafe to use.

Riemer said he believes the county needs an independent evaluation of the problems and how the situation is being fixed.

"He's an independent. He does what he deems to be necessary," Riemer said of Blansitt, whose agency is separate from the council and executive branch. "We know that he is looking into this, as he looks into everything -- we just want to make sure when he needs money to do that, it will be there without having to ask any questions."

Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, D-Silver Spring, said she supports Riemer's request. She said the project has caused headaches for her constituents, and she is concerned about the lack of candor from the executive branch -- especially since Leggett rebuffed the invitation from all nine council members to appear Wednesday.

"To say I'm disappointed is an understatement," Ervin said. "I think we're better than this, and our residents deserve better than this. [With Blansitt's report] I think we will begin to get the answers that we request."

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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