Still no firm date for Silver Spring Transit Center opening -- Gazette.Net


As spring brings warmer temperatures, crews will soon begin work on some of the final stages of the Silver Spring Transit Center.

But when the facility, at the corner of Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue, will be open to residents is still an open question and could depend on whether more work will be needed to help secure the facility’s interior beams.

That could delay the opening for up to a year or more. The project has been in the works for years and the facility was originally scheduled to open in 2011.

Soon, crews will begin laying latex-modified concrete in an effort to correct cracks in the building.

In addition, a county consultant’s March 2013 analysis revealed concerns about stress on the facility’s interior beams and girders, David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, told the County Council during a briefing Tuesday.

To fix those cracks, the consultant, KCE Structural Engineers of Washington, D.C., drew up a separate plan that involves removing material and drilling into the support beams.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority, which will ultimately control the facility, has questioned whether the second project needs to be done immediately or it could wait to see if problems actually arise, Dise said.

If the remediation work is done now, it could add another six months to a year or more to the length of the project, he said.

Charles Scott, who represented WMATA at the council meeting, said there are “conflicting reports” for how to fix the shear and torsion problems that have raised concern.

Shear is vertical stress on beams, while torsion is twisting stress, Dise said.

Crews are mapping cracks in the building’s structure and should begin sealing them up within the next two months, Dise said.

If cracks reappear after they’re sealed, it would be a sign that the remediation work does need to be done, he said.

There’s no estimate for how much that work would cost, Dise said.

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) has requested that Montgomery resident and former CEO of Lockheed Martin Norm Augustine give him an evaluation of what final work needs to be done.

Dise said Augustine is expected to turn in a report sometime in the coming weeks, but the document is only meant to advise Leggett and won’t carry any official authority.

Augustine is consulting with three experts on building large concrete structures for the report, which Dise said would come at no cost to the county.

Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D-Dist. 4) of Silver Spring said she was surprised when she learned of Augustine’s role.

The county executive can bring in whomever he wants to provide advice, but the council should have been notified, Navarro said.

But Councilman Marc Elrich said he didn’t see anything wrong with an executive with no background in engineering bringing in people with expertise to advise him.

“I think this is an OK thing,” Elrich said.

Dise said he wouldn’t speculate about when the transit center would open, but said crews would work as quickly as possible to get a facility that is certified to be safe.

When Elrich asked if the county had reviewed the other bid on the project to see if that company had seen anything more complicated in the project than the bid the company went with, Dise said they had.

Dise said he didn’t believe the information ultimately would have led them to look at the project any differently.

Hindsight is always 20-20 on a troubled project like the transit center, Dise said.

“If you list stuff that could happen, it happened on this project,” Dise said.