Consultant Uncovers More Issues With Silver Spring Transit Center

A “long-anticipated” consultant’s report on the long overdue transit center in Silver Spring, Md., listed more problems with the project, according to Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett.

Concerns about the way the contractor poured the concrete in what is known as the Paul Sarbanes Transit Center have existed for a while. The county hired KCE Structural Engineers to inspect the project after noticing varying thicknesses of concrete throughout the structure, significant cracking, and exposed post-tensioning cables.

KCE found even more problems than previously identified, according to Leggett.

KCE and its team, which includes Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. and Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc., found serious problems with the design, construction, concrete strength, concrete testing accuracy, adherence to fire codes, and many other issues that indicate the SSTC, as it is currently constructed, is severely compromised.

According to the thorough report, the facility contains significant and serious design and construction defects, including excessive cracking, missing post-tensioning cables, inadequate reinforcing steel, and concrete of insufficient strength and thickness.  These deficiencies not only compromise the structural integrity of the facility but could also begin to impact the Transit Center’s durability far earlier than expected, thus shortening its useful life.  At worst, if no changes are made, some of the facility’s elements may not withstand the loads they are intended to support – thereby putting the many users of the center at potential risk.

The problems can be fixed, Leggett said, but that will take time.

The building -- part of the revitalization of downtown Silver Spring, providing connections to buses, taxis MARC and Metro -- was supposed to be completed in 2010, and the price tag for the mammoth concrete structure now tops $100 million.

The County Council met in closed session Tuesday to discuss a possible lawsuit over construction problems.

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