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1-year-old transit center shaking off construction turmoil

The Montgomery County Council approved $3.1 million more Tuesday for the legal fight over the Silver Spring Transit Center, which opened years later than planned after a series of structural and concrete issues. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — It was four years overdue and $50 million over budget, but one year after opening to the public, there are few signs of the struggle to get the Silver Spring Transit Center up and running.

The delays and cost overruns of the sprawling concrete structure that links area bus lines, Metrorail and MARC commuter rail led to testy exchanges before the Montgomery County Council as the contractors and officials with the county’s own Department of General Services were grilled about the problems that ranged from leaks and cracks in the concrete structure to pieces of concrete falling from the ceiling of the three-story center.

One year later, Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen said she’s not received any constituent calls about the transit center.

“I’m not hearing a peep!” she said at a recent briefing.

Controversy continues however.

During the fraught construction process, county officials, including Director of the Department of General Services, David Dise, repeatedly declared that taxpayers would not be on the hook for the $50 million in added costs to repair problems with the transit center.

The county and Metro, which now operates the transit center, have sued the contractors involved for almost $110 million.

John Markovs, the deputy county attorney, said the county is seeking $80 million. And Morgan Dye, a spokesperson for Metro, said the transit agency is seeking $25.9 million in the suit, which is due to go to trial in May 2017.

Today, residents from around the region are served by 43 bus routes, 22 of them provided by Metrobus. The county’s Ride On buses also use the terminal.

Kavon Martez, who often takes Metrorail, but will sometimes board the buses for his daily commute from Silver Spring to D.C., likes what he sees.

“Overall I think it’s nice. It’s organized so people have a definite place to go,” Martez said.

Before it opened, he noted that riders had to thread their way through traffic on the street to find their buses.

“At first, people were just scattered all around. I think that was more unsafe.”

One tweak, he said, would be adding some security at night.

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