The Maryland Board of Public Works last week approved three contracts totaling $2.3 million for what the state comptroller called “the fabled, long-awaited“ Bethesda Metro station south entrance project.
The total projected cost is $80.5 million, according to Montgomery County documents.
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) expressed skepticism about the funding, said a spokesman, Andrew Friedson. The proposed south entrance to the Bethesda Metro station has been under discussion for years, Franchot said, as far back as when he chaired a transportation subcommittee in the House of Delegates.
“I would like to know exactly what it is that [the Maryland Transit Administration] is doing on this project, how it differs from the work that [the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority] and Montgomery County have done in the past, how any of this gets us closer to actually having a south entrance to the Bethesda Metro Station,” said Franchot, according to a statement released by his office.
The board’s other members are Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp.
The $2.3 million was part of $21 million that was approved at the July 3 meeting for seven other Maryland Transit Administration projects.
Franchot asked how much had already been spent on the seven contracts and requested a written overview on what taxpayers have actually received for the money, Friedson said.
The Bethesda Metro station was originally proposed to have a southern entrance with a bank of high-speed elevators that could transport passengers to street level, similar to the ones at Friendship Heights. The entrance would also connect the planned Purple Line, when it is built, to the Red Line.
The construction date for the project has not been announced because it is directly linked to the Purple Line construction at the Bethesda station. Construction is expected to take 30 months, according to county documents.
Rummel, Klepper & Kahl will get an additional $1 million, Whitman, Requardt & Associates will get an additional $1 million and Parsons Brinckerhoff will get an additional $300,000 from the recent contract approvals. All three companies will be working on projects related to the Bethesda Metro south entrance.
Parsons Brinckerhoff, of New York, is a global consulting company that works in both the public and private sectors. It was responsible for engineering the troubled $120 million Silver Spring Transit Center and has since been selected to design the remedial work at the center.
Representatives from Parsons Brinckerhoff referred requests for comment to their client, the Maryland Transit Administration.
That agency is aware of Franchot's concerns, said spokesman Terry Owens, who wrote in an email to The Gazette that all the agency’s “projects are carefully managed to ensure they are completed on time and on budget where possible."
Staff Writer Kara Rose contributed to this report.