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Safety Hazards Seen in Yet-To-Be Opened Maryland Transit Hub

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 05:00 AM

The opening of the Silver Spring Transit Center is already two years late, and the troubled facility just received another dose of bad news.

Chunks of concrete could break off and fall on commuters—unless the Silver Spring Transit Center's beams and girders are strengthened. That's one of the key findings in a report released Tuesday on the long-running problems with the transit facility's cracking concrete.

The report, which was commissioned by Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, states there is "no evidence suggesting the danger of a major structural failure, even with the facility in its present form; however, it is particularly important that remediations of the type described herein be implemented promptly in order to avoid lesser safety hazards."

The report estimates the cost of repairs to be $10.6 million.

Leggett says the county has two options: perform the work necessary to reinforce the concrete, or employ an aggressive maintenance and inspection regime. The second choice would result in a faster opening.

"If you inform the public one or the other direction that you go, I think the public will be OK with that, so long as you address it," says Leggett, who released a statement in response to the report. "The question now is, how do you best address it? You can address it one of two ways. If you do nothing about that, I think those doubts will persist. But we are saying we are prepared to do either one of those things."

But the transit center's design contractor, Parsons Brinckerhoff, says the concrete is not unsafe.

"As designed, the Silver Spring Transit Center facility is safe and durable. We, Parsons Brinckerhoff, will continue to work closely with all involved parties to achieve its successful opening," says company spokesman Jerry Jannetti.

Metro is expected to operate the facility once it's ready, and is now reviewing the report, which was put together by former Lockheed Martin chief executive Norman Augustine. Leggett says the Silver Spring Transit Center could open this fall.

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