After years of delays and being over budget, the Silver Spring Transit Center has an opening target date of Sept. 20.
On Aug. 20, David Dise, director of Department of General Services, sent Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority an Item Completion Notice. The notice lets WMATA know it has 10 days to decide whether or not it will be accepting the transit center.
“Within a half an hour of getting the notice, they set the date,” Dise said.
Issues in the infrastructure caused by design issues created a four-year delay.
General Services and County Executive Ike Leggett said they are committed to public safety and waited to have the structural issues fixed before the opening.
Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., the design firm for the project, made the decision to not use a slip-joint in the wall by the hill, Dise said. Slip-joints allow two surfaces to slip against each other.
Slip-joints allow horizontal and vertical components to adjust, expand and contract.
The slip-joints would have been located between horizontal walls and placed where the horizontal and vertical walls met. The current surfaces cannot independently move against each other, which is the cause of the stress cracks, Dise said.
He said Parsons Brinckerhoff said the decision would not cause any issues, and the department trusted the expertise of the company, he said.
During walk-throughs, Dise and his colleagues noticed significant flaking and cracks in the concrete.
They intend to hold all parties responsible for recovering the taxpayer money used to pay for the overages, Dise said.
“We spent the last year, actually four years, to fix this issue,” Dise said.
The center is moving toward completion. Although it is not completely done, it can be opened, he said.
Completion includes moving signs or finishing unpainted walls, he said.
Despite the opening announcement, the public has responded with skepticism due to the constant delays over the past four years.
Dise understands the public’s concerns and frustrations, but says they’d rather delay the opening of the transit center than have to close it due to the same issues within a year of its opening.
According a WMATA news release, the transit center will provide expanded bus facilities and improved connectivity between Metrorail, Metrobus, MARC Rail, Ride On Bus, intercity buses and taxis.
Dise said WMATA envisioned a street-level transit facility with buses going one way that was estimated at $33 million in 1993. The estimate for the number of residents who would use the facility nearly doubled.
In 1998, WMATA projected a higher number of residents who would use the service and wanted a multilevel facility with buses going both ways, he said. The cost was estimated at $35 million and has been increasing due to the design changes.
In 2006, the center was estimated to have 145 buses using the center at its peak hour. WMATA is projecting 200 buses to be used during its peak time, Dise said.