MARYLAND

Montgomery County officials struggle to explain failures at Silver Spring Transit Center

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Details are emerging about what's wrong with the Silver Spring Transit Center. But how the county lost control of the project has been harder to identify.

The project is two years behind schedule and plagued with safety concerns.

"Answering how this happened is something that is going to be challenging, and we're doing that now," said David Dise, the project manager and director of the Department of General Services.

In a grueling hearing Tuesday, county council members fired questions at Dise, who gave few details about how the project fell apart.

"We don't know if someone did something or failed to do something. We simply know whatever was done is that we ended up with this result," Dise explained. 

Dise said the three key contractors share some blame. Parsons Brinckerhoff and Foulger-Pratt plan to fix their errors, such as weak or uneven concrete, for free. But the third, Robert. B Balter Company, has not yet said if they will cover the cost of remediation.

Still, the county council members won't say who's at fault.

Councilman Roger Berliner said, "Let's get it done, and let's leave the finger pointing to the courts."

It's important to note the county has never taken on a project quite like the transit center, but Dise said the out-of-the-box concept was sound, adding the project fell short in execution and inspection.

"This is not an unreasonable approach," Dise continued. "...it's just simply that there were problems in its execution that need to be remediated."

But in Silver Spring, residents say they're tired of excuses about the project's failure.

Ben Roth of Silver Spring said, "I think this whole issue of how this thing has been developed was terrible."

Dise says work has already begun to fix parts of the transit center and will continue through the summer.

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