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The Silver Spring Transit Center — A History of Delay

October 1993 - The Maryland Transit Administration delays a planned relocation of the Silver Spring MARC station by 3 years to study integration of the MARC station with Metro and bus bays.

April 9, 1996 - Planning for an integrated MARC, Metro, and bus station in Silver Spring has developed into a transit center. Rob Klein of county Transportation Dept. speaks to ACT meeting on the project.

April 23, 1997 - County Executive Doug Duncan tells a press conference that the $20 million transit center will be finished in 1998.

April 1999 - ACT asks for revision of transit center plans to make room for Purple Line and add more retail stores.

March 15, 2000 - County announces that the transit center will be built in two phases. The first phase, to be built by MTA, will relocate the MARC station. It will begin construction on July 4. Phase 2, to be built by the county, will start in 2001 and be completed in 2003.

Sept. 11, 2000 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the transit center, with completion of both phases still promised for 2003.

June 2001 - 14-story office, apartment, and hotel buildings added as a third phase of transit center project; Metro reaches agreement with Foulger-Pratt to develop commercial phase of project.

March 2002 - Three stories cut off planned office building; completion of transit center foreseen by 2007.

Early designs of the transit center, like this one by Torti Gallas, aimed to “celebrate transit.”

March 24, 2003 - New MARC station opens.

March 2006 - County announces new design for transit center as 3-level concrete structure with 2 banks of enclosed escalators.

Nov. 15, 2006 - Foulger-Pratt now plans two 200-foot apartment houses and a hotel at transit center; says the bus structure can move ahead before these buildings.

Nov. 27, 2006 - Ceremony celebrates start of work on $75 million transit center and names it for Sen. Paul Sarbanes.

May 23, 2007 - Construction begins on the temporary bus stops to be used while the main transit center structure is built.

July 12, 2007 - Planning Board approves transit center plans, after warning county to avoid cost-cutting that would leave Silver Spring with a plain concrete building.

May 2008 - Foulger-Pratt awarded construction contract for bus structure.

June 24, 2008 - County Executive Ike Leggett removes planned features of transit center after bids come in well above expected cost.

Sept. 26, 2008 - Groundbreaking for the main transit center structure.

Oct. 21, 2009 - Completion of transit center delayed from end of 2010 to February 2011 due to utility relocation problems. “When we start building out of the ground, it's going to pop like crazy,” county promises.

March 10, 2010 - Cost of transit center rises to $95 million, opening delayed to June 2011, when excavations hit bedrock and contaminated soil.

April 7, 2010 - County building inspector George Mavroumatis asks whether design will cause concrete to crack at edge of bus deck. (KCE attachments, vol. 2, p. 84.)

May 11, 2010 - Design engineer (Parsons Brinckerhoff) says cracking is not expected, but concrete contractors should be consulted before proceeding. (pp. 80, 83)

June 3, 2010 - Concrete contractor says transit center's unique design means that past experience is no guide to cracking at edge of deck; county must rely on analysis by PB. (p. 77)

August 2010 - Concrete pouring begins.

Oct. 28, 2010 - Cracks seen at edge of concrete deck. (KCE attachments, vol. 2, p. 76)

November 2010 - Workers report to county and Metro that concrete is too thin.

Nov. 16, 2010 - County says construction is “still on track” and transit center will open in October 2011.

December 2010 - January 2011 - Concrete pouring continues through winter, with inadequate attention to special curing requirements in cold weather.

Structural reinforcement cable sticks out from badly cured concrete.
Photo from KCE attachments, vol. 2, p. 54.

Jan. 26, 2011 - Opening of transit center put off to December 2011. County places blame for delay on excavation problems.

Jan. 9, 2012 - Concrete problems revealed to public.

Jan. 30, 2012 - County-funded structural inspection finds more concrete problems.

March 15, 2012 - Foulger-Pratt tells county that the transit center is structurally sound and meets specifications.

July 12, 2012 - ACT calls on the County Council to hold a community meeting so that the public can learn the facts about transit center delays.

Oct. 4, 2012 - County says transit center will open in late August, 2013 at a cost of $110 million.

Dec. 21, 2012 - County says it “anticipates” the transit center will open next fall, but it is still waiting for a report on how to fix its problems.

Jan. 9, 2013 - On the first anniversary of the public revelation of the concrete problem, ACT renews its call for a public meeting to air the facts.

Jan. 18, 2013 - Foulger-Pratt files claim against county, saying county is to blame for delay.

Feb. 19, 2013 - Metropolitan Branch Trail opens between transit center and Metro station.

March 19, 2013 - KCE Structural Engineers, consultants hired by county, issue their report finding many parties at fault.

April 2, 2013 - County appropriates an additional $7.5 million for legal and consulting expenses.

April 9, 2013 - County announces how it will try to fix Transit Center, based on KCE remedy approach. PB and Foulger-Pratt will do work, leaving arguments about who pays for later. Balter (county oversight contractor) has not yet agreed to participate.

April 12, 2013 - WMATA tells county it will not accept ownership of the transit center, even after proposed fixes.

July 9, 2013 - County says replacement of concrete “pour strips” built without steel reinforcement will start within a week and remaining repairs will be permitted by end of month.

July 16, 2013 - WMATA, county argue about pour strip repairs.

Sept. 6, 2013 - Pour strip fix under way. County, PB propose covering remainder of decks with latex-cement.

Sept. 10, 2013 - Foulger-Pratt says latex-cement won't work, center can't open before summer 2014.

Sept. 19, 2013 - County issues Foulger-Pratt a Notice to Proceed, ordering them to begin latex-cement work.

April 8, 2014 - Silver Spring Transit Center facing another delay - opening pushed back to late 2014 at the earliest.

April 30, 2014 - A new report warns of risk from falling concrete chunks unless interior beams and girders are reinforced before transit center is opened.

A good short summary of the story of the Transit Center, as revealed through May 2012, can be found in an article by Victor Zapana of the Washington Post.