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Silver Spring Transit Center to cost taxpayers even more money

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SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJLA) - One of the area's most infamous construction projects has gotten pricier, again.

On Thursday, Montgomery County officials revealed another $11 million is needed to repair cracking concrete at the Silver Spring Transit Center. The overhaul will delay the structure's opening by 8 to 10 months. The new target date for completion is Jan. 2015, but no one is making promises.

"All projects encounter struggles. Certainly this one isn't unique in that regard," Department of General Services director David Dise said. "So it's time to move forward and fix it."

Dise, who's overseen the project for Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, appeared unfazed by the latest setback during an impromptu meeting with reporters.

"The county implements billions of dollars worth of capital projects every year, so it's expected that there will be problems," Dise added.

But the Montgomery County Council isn't feeling sympathetic, grilling Dise and his cohorts over a lack of communication, ownership and prudence. District Three councilman Phil Andrews (D), who's currently running for county executive, made some of the sharpest statements during an hour-long status hearing Thursday.

"This project has been a monumental debacle," Andrews stated. "There's no comparison between the Silver Spring Transit Center and any other construction project in the county's history."

In 1993, county leaders estimated a transit center would cost $26 million to build. That figure more than tripled to $93 million in 2008. In 2013 it spiked again to $120 million. Following the newest round of planned repairs, Silver Spring's fiscal eyesore should top-out at around $131 million.

"I just wonder if someone is going to be held accountable, because there's a need for the transit center and it's just been one problem after another," said Metro rider Joan Hurwitz.

"It's extremely discouraging," added Silver Spring resident James Bradford. "We were promised something that was going to be done three or four years ago, and it's not."

Montgomery County could accelerate the concrete deck torsion repairs by hiring crews to work nights and weekends. That of course would mean more money; an option no one appears interested in pursuing.

"It is tens-of-millions-of-dollars over budget, it's got major safety issues, major durability issues, it can't work as intended at this point," Andrews said. "It's just way overdue."

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