Silver Spring Transit Center opening more than a year away

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Photo - Silver Spring Transit Center, Silver Spring, MD, Tues, Jan 10, 2012
Silver Spring Transit Center, Silver Spring, MD, Tues, Jan 10, 2012
Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson,Metro and Traffic

Commuterslikely will have to wait more than a yearto use theproblem-plagued Silver Spring Transit Center,a Montgomery County official said Tuesday.

County Director of General Services David Dise told the County Council it willtakeanother six weeksfordesign fixes to be drafted. Construction might not begin until late summer at the earliest, and he estimated it would take a year tofix the project, with an August 2014 preliminary date for the center to open.

Though the structure won't have to be torn down, contractors will have to demolish and reconstruct about 8,000 square feet where buses are supposed to pick up passengersbecause the concrete there was poorly constructed. Other fixes include reinforcing concrete beams and casing columns for the middle levels of the structure.

Dise said work is under wayon the project, which was started in 2008 and was originally scheduled to open in 2011.

The fixes will be made by the same companies that designed, built and inspected the structure -- a move that concerns council members.

Councilwoman Nancy Floreen, D-at large, asked Dise how the county would ensure the same types of problemswouldn't happenagain.

"How are we assured that the final plans are the final plans and that's it?" Floreen asked. "I would feel way more comfortable if we have KCE [Engineering Services] supervising the whole remediation process." KCE was hired by the county to investigate problems at the center.

Dise said the county will review theplanned fixes, but the actualworkwould need to be done by the designer, Parsons Brinkerhoff, the builder, Foulger-Pratt and the inspector, Balter.

He said the resumes of the companies are impressive and the county has worked with them before, though a project of the transit center's magnitude might have proved too much.

"Hindsight is a wonderful thing," he said. "We went into this project ... with the understanding that we had highly competent, well-experienced consultants and contractors and we have every reason to believe this would be executed seamlessly. That didn't occur."

Councilman Marc Elrich, D-at large, also questioned whether the project was too big for the county to undertake.

Otherlawmakerswere concerned about costs.The companies will pay to fix the center,and Councilman Roger Berliner, D-Bethesda, saidthe county will sue to make sure the companies pony up.

ButDise said taxpayers will incur some costs from consulting fees and employee work hours.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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