Silver Spring Transit Center further delayed -- Gazette.Net







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The opening of the Silver Spring Transit Center is in limbo again this week after engineers found structural problems in the building.

The setback is the latest in a series of delays on the project, located on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Colesville Road. Construction on the transit hub began in September 2008 and was supposed complete in June 2011.

In the fall, workers discovered spots in the upper deck where concrete was too thin, said David Dise, director of the Montgomery County Department of General Services. Developer Foulger-Pratt initially thought the concrete inconsistencies would not affect the building’s structural soundness.

Dise said Tuesday that the opening would be delayed six months, from January to June. But Dise said Friday that results of a study by outside structural engineers found more intensive infrastructure work will need to be done on the upper deck.

It is uncertain when the project will be complete or how much work will need to be done, Dise said.

Concrete covers the reinforcement bars that lie horizontally and create the bone structure of the floor. There are eight places on the upper deck that are too thin, Dise said.

Repairs on the $101 million project will come at no cost to the county, Dise said. Foulger-Pratt will pay to fix the mistakes, Dise said.

“This is an error by the contractor and the subcontractor,” Dise said. “This is their error, their responsibility, their cost. The only impact this will have on residents is the delay in the opening of the transit center.”

The three-story complex will connect bus, Metrorail, MARC trains, Amtrak trains, taxis, walkers and bikers.

After studying the structure for the past few weeks, engineers found that the thin areas of concrete did not meet standards of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority or the American Concrete Institute.

The concrete is supposed to be 2-inches thick on the reinforcement bars, but instead are an inch or less thick in parts, Dise said.

Foulger-Pratt and the county initially hoped to cover the bars with another layer of concrete to protect them from the elements.

The developer thought workers would be able to fix the problem while continuing other work on the completing the rest of the structure, Dise said.

The center was supposed to open in June 2011, but was delayed to January 2012 after workers had to reroute utility lines during the first phase of construction, Dise said. Before the county or developer knew the extent of the concrete damages this week, the project had been delayed to June.

In the next three weeks, engineers will investigate the extent of repairs while the county, Foulger-Pratt, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Maryland Transit Administration discuss solutions, Dise said.