SILVER SPRING, Md. – The opening of the troubled, $120 million Silver Spring Transit Center likely won’t occur until next summer because weather conditions are idling the application of a 2-inch layer of latex-modified concrete needed to reinforce weak spots on the center’s second and third levels.
Since last March, when a 100-page engineering report detailed structural problems, Montgomery County has been to resolve the issues. The concrete work needs to be done when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
“As I mentioned in September, if the weather turns cool and we didn’t have everything in place, we might miss that weather window. That’s where we find ourselves now,” says David Dise, director of Montgomery County’s General Services Department.
He announced the delay in an update sent to the county council, county executive and reporters Tuesday afternoon.
Throughout the winter, work will be completed to reinforce new support beams and girders against shearing. But the concrete work likely won’t occur until late March or early April and will last about six weeks.
“The first thing we have to do is seal the cracks. Those are the cracks that were identified in the KCE Engineering report earlier this year. We just got the permit on that last week and that work is starting now and should last two to three weeks,” says Dise.
Outside the Silver Spring Transit Center, riders waiting for Metrobuses weren’t surprised about the delays.
“Stuff like this is not all that uncommon. Throughout the D.C. metro region, things always seem to be under construction and usually take much longer than anticipated and are over budget,” says Chantelle Jones.
“I do not mind this delay because the structure is not safe. Personally, I’d rather it be safe than sorry. It’s almost like it’s not even there,” says Wanda Garner.
Fellow rider Bruce Shephard has been riding to and from Silver Spring for years and agrees with Garner, although he’s skeptical.
“They should get it right. Cement is something difficult to do in the winter time, with the chemicals, so it has to be done right,” he says.
“It’s frustrating walking by the transit center all the time. But as long as our buses keep running on time, I don’t mind it too much. I just want someone to be held liable in the end for what happened,” Shephard says.
But others like Janice Smith aren’t so forgiving about the new delay.
“It’s almost 2014 and we still don’t have this building yet. It’s ridiculous, beyond frustrating. It’s a total waste of money at this point,” she says.
Smith says she’s unsure if she’ll ever feel truly safe after all the repairs are complete.
Rider Walter Scott also remains suspicious that the building will open next year and says the walk from the bus to the Silver Spring Metro station is annoying.
“Everyone is frustrated. It’s just been poor planning from top to bottom,” he says.
Once the concrete is applied in the spring, Montgomery County should be ready to turn over the facility to Metro. It’ll likely take Metro about a month to test the facility and decide when it will open. Metro agreed to take over the facility and maintain it.
Metro suggested the possibility of not accepting the facility this summer, but later backed off the claims and is working with the county. Dise says the disputes with Metro didn’t affect the timeline and haven’t played a role in this new delay.
Montgomery County, Metro, general contractor Foulger-Pratt and designer Parsons- Brinckerhoff have worked together since the summer on how to fix the transit center’s problems.