County Executive Isiah Leggett has put $7.5 million in his capital budget proposal to “cover site improvements, utilities, and construction costs needed to prevent further opening delays” at the Silver Spring Transit Center, a more than $110 million transportation project on the corner of Wayne Avenue and Colesville Road in downtown Silver Spring.
The money is an amendment to the six-year Capital Improvement Program that will go toward more stormwater management measures not in the original scope of work of the project, utility relocation costs, site improvements, costs to continue operation of the bus interim operations site used by Ride On and Metrobus, county staff and consultant costs and legal costs, according to an email from Esther Bowring, public information officer for Montgomery County.
Project delays caused a portion of the costs included in the supplemental appropriation, and the county “intends to seek reimbursement for those project delay costs” to the “maximum extent allowed under the law,” Bowring’s email said. She did not say how much of the $7.5 million was caused by project delays.
None of the supplemental request will be used to pay for the actual remedial work related to the concrete problems at the transit center, Bowring said.
Foulger-Pratt Companies began the project in 2008, which was supposed to be completed in two years.
A series of cracks in the middle and upper levels of the structure and disparities in the thickness of the concrete have delayed its opening by more than two years.
David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, said Monday afternoon that while the county might not sue, it has “never ruled out the possibility.”
Leggett said that if the county is forced to take any legal action that they would do so while the remedial work is under way, to prevent further delays of the center’s opening.
“We will make sure we get every penny owed to the county that is related to this work,” Leggett said Monday, adding that he wants to get the transit center done right while moving as rapidly as possible.
Tina Slater, president for Action Committee for Transit, stood along the fence surrounding the transit center Jan. 9 calling for answers exactly one year after the public was told there were problems with the concrete. She was joined by other ACT members, including Dan Reed of Silver Spring.
“This is an important part of the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, an important part of our transportation network,” Reed said at last week’s conference. “We just want to know when it is going to happen so we can further the revitalization of Silver Spring.”
When told Tuesday morning about the $7.5 million Leggett is proposing, Slater said she is happy more attention is being directed toward the Silver Spring Transit Center. She said she still wants to hear a firm date for opening and have the opportunity to talk to public officials and the parties involved in the project in a public forum.
“We still would like a public forum where the results of the [remediation] report are explained to us, where the delays are explained [and] where the future remediation options are explained to us so that we can ask questions and receive answers,” Slater said Tuesday.
Once it’s completed, the transit center will create a transit hub, including MARC commuter train service, Metro, Ride On and intercity buses.
Dise said Monday that the remediation report — which will detail the safest and most viable solution to the concrete issues at the transit center — should be complete and available to the public in the next week or two. He told The Gazette last month that he plans to have the transit center open by September.
The $7.5 million is included in Leggett’s proposed amendments to the 2013-2018 CIP. Bowring said the money will be available once the County Council passes it, which must be before July 1. The money will be spent by the end of fiscal 2014, which is the following June 30.