Remediation efforts on the flawed $120 million Silver Spring Transit Center will likely begin in July, according to officials in Montgomery County. But managers at Metro are unwilling to say whether they will ever take possession of the huge structure.
Currently, Metro passengers have to walk for blocks to catch their taxicabs and buses in busy Silver Spring. That is because the huge, three-story transit center which adjoins the Metro station is unsafe due to design, construction and inspection errors, according to an outside engineering firm. The flaws are very serious.
"There are certain areas where the concrete is definitely too thin," said David Dise, the head of Montgomery County's Department of General Services at a briefing before the County Council. "And there's concern with that as well [over] the thinness [of] the rebar and post-tensioning cables."
But Dise said a remediation plan for the thin concrete (on the second and third levels of the transit center) could be underway by July.
Several officials from Metro's parent agency, WMATA, attended the briefing. Council member Marc Elrich (D) took a swipe at Metro managers for publicly declaring they are disinclined to formally accept and maintain the multi-level building.
"I guess the hardest thing for me to reconcile about WMATA's position," said Elrich, "is that we were all partners in the beginning. And, if there's a problem in design, we all signed off on it."
After hearing about the plan for strengthening the concrete floors on levels two and three, officials from WMATA steadfastly refused to promise to accept (and maintain) the transit center.
"The structural capacity of the facility is not now in question," explained Lou Viner, WMATA's infrastructure chief. "What we're worried about is the behavior of the structure over the long term. And ... the possibility of cracks developing. And our need to continually [repair] these cracks."
Officials from Metro say they will run buses in and out of the transit center, but even with the remediation, they are loathe to accept management of the building.
Montgomery County officials maintain when they are done with the remediation, the original specs for the building will be met, and they still expect Metro to take over the structure.
For the time being, the construction company which built the transit center is paying for the remediation, said David Dise. But since design and inspection flaws were also factors, the construction company may later try to push off some of the costs on the architects, the inspectors, or even the county government.