The first stages of repairs at the Silver Spring Transit Center are scheduled to begin in the next few days, including the removal of concrete slabs that did not contain reinforcements and testing concrete that will be used to replace the slabs.
David Dise, director of Montgomery County’s Department of General Services, said Thursday that a work group tasked with engineering a solution to problems at the troubled $120 million transit hub was to meet Thursday afternoon to determine when work will start.
Some concrete sections of the transit center were installed without metal beams and post tensioning wires, which ensure the concrete’s strength. Dise said those sections will be taken out while a test mock-up will be done simultaneously with the concrete that will be used to replace the existing concrete slabs.
The transit center at the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue in downtown Silver Spring was slated to open in 2011, but a series of cracks found in the structure and disparities in the thickness of the concrete have delayed the project’s opening by two years so far. It is still unclear when the center will be open for business.
A report detailing the problems and potential fixes of the facility said the transit center contains “serious design and construction defects” that compromise the center’s structural integrity, longevity and safety. The report also included fixes for the problems, which a working group has been engineering since the report’s release, including the work on the concrete slabs that lacked sufficient reinforcement.
Dise said Thursday that the concrete sections known as “pour strips” need to be fixed before the remainder of repairs can be carried out. Those fixes include an “overlay” that will be chemically bonded to the existing concrete to ensure the proper concrete strength and thickness, and to fix some of the cracking found on the surface of the structure.
In a progress report sent to the Montgomery County Council on July 3, Dise said a final review is underway for two overlay options that vary based on material: a latex modified concrete and a polymer bonded overlay. The report also said radar testing is ongoing to figure out which areas lack concrete cover.
The completion of that work was due by Thursday, according to the report.
The progress report also said a fire protection specialist is examining the structure for fire code compliance. Evaluations are also being done for load-bearing capacity of the beams and girders in the facility, which the report said should be delivered by Thursday.
The county was cleared Monday to begin fixing the concrete slabs at the facility, County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) told members of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board at its monthly meeting at the Silver Spring Civic Building on Monday night.
Leggett said work would start within a week and that he anticipates permits for the remainder of the fixes will be released by the end of July.
Leggett also said at the meeting that he took responsibility for the transit center not being opened. He said it was his decision to bring in consultants when he heard about the then-minor cracks in the structure instead of accepting the center as it was a year and a half ago. Those consultants spent months evaluating the structure, ultimately releasing a remediation report in March.
Tina Slater, president for Action Committee for Transit, said that while she is glad that work is starting, she is worried about how long the repair schedule will be.
“We just have no idea when it will end,” she said Thursday. “The whole project has been a disaster.”