In his Aug. 3 message to the Montgomery County Republican Party, Chairman Mark Uncapher linked District 15 Del. Aruna Miller (D) to the problems at the beleaguered Silver Spring Transit Center.
“Voters seeking answers need not search out a faceless bureaucrat. The ‘Facilities Planning Manager’ heading up the Section is none other than District 15 House of Delegates Democratic Member Aruna Miller,” Uncapher’s message read.
The message went on to say that District 15 voters “can do the entire county a public service by asking some pointed questions of Del. Miller about the Silver Spring Transit Center.” District 15 includes Boyds, Clarksburg, Darnestown, Germantown, Poolesville and Potomac, as well as parts of Gaithersburg, North Potomac and Rockville.
When asked about the statement, Miller told The Gazette on Tuesday afternoon that she never had any association with the transit center. The project, she said, has been in the hands of the Department of General Services, not the county’s Department of Transportation.
“It’s a far stretch and gross negligence to link me to the Silver Spring Transit Center,” said Miller of Darnestown.
Uncapher clarified his statement on Tuesday afternoon, saying that while Miller is not responsible for the mistakes at the center, voters should be asking her questions about why the original designs for the center did not require adequate reinforcements.
Uncapher also said he was unhappy with the “amount of obfuscation of what went wrong at various times,” noting county officials’ “reluctance” to take responsibility.
As a transportation planning manager for the Department of Transportation, Miller said she and her team justify the need for and comment on projects before they go the county executive or the Montgomery County Council. Once it is passed on, she said, the project is out of her hands.
Having served in this capacity in the department for about six years, Miller said she never had any involvement with the transit center.
The $120 million 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.
Miller said she believes once the center is completed and functioning, it will be a great asset to Silver Spring. While she is concerned about how this project might impact taxpayers, she said the county and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will resolve their issues for what is the best course to take in maintaining the facility.