As the county and the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority prepare to sue the companies involved for $166 million, residents still have reservations after Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center opened Sept. 20 following years of delays.
The center has been plagued with structural issues that resulted in a five-year delay in the opening date and more than $141 million in repairs.
The three-level complex houses Metro rail lines, buses and a Kiss & Ride for residents to get around.
“We spent the last four years with the dual purpose ensuring the facility is safe and sound,” said David Dise, director of Department of General Services.
Some residents are concerned that the infrastructure may still have issues.
“My main issue is, ‘How did they correct these problems?’” said Silver Spring resident Terry Long. She said she is nervous to use the transit center.
In 2012, General Services found areas where flaking and cracking were occurring at an abnormal rate.
Shortly after, structural engineers performed forensic analysis detailing significant cracking and flaking in the concrete. The engineering company used radar and X-rays to inspect the concrete.
Corrections included laying down latex-modified concrete to strengthen roads and fixing cracks and twisting issues.
Parsons Brinckerhoff, the design firm, made the decision not to use slip-joints in the concrete wall by the hill, Dise previously said. The cracks were caused by stress because the surfaces cannot move against each other. The joints allow surfaces to slip against each other, eliminating the possibility of stress cracks.
Long said the center is creating growth, improving transportation.
Evelyn Gonzales, a Silver Spring resident, does not have any concerns for her safety when she uses the center. Gonzales does worry about how she will find the correct train or bus.
Buses used to make stops along streets, but now many route stops are now located in the center.
On Aug. 27, Dise said the biggest concern was safety and that there was no reason to open it before the repairs were made.
WMATA, the transit agency for which the center was built, made it clear to the county that it would not take over the facility until the repairs were done. WMATA accepted the facility on Aug. 20.
WMATA envisioned a street-level facility with buses going one way rather than two in 1993. Five years later, the company anticipated a higher number of people using the service and asked for a multilevel facility.
“We appreciate the riders’ patience with the delays,” said Patrick Lacefield, a County executive spokesperson.
In late August, the County and Metro filed a $166 million lawsuit against Parsons Brinckerhoff, general contractor Foulger-Pratt and inspection company Robert B. Balter, alleging negligence and breach of contract.