Today, Montgomery County released the long-anticipated report from our independent consultant, KCE Structural Engineers, P.C., concerning the Silver Spring Transit Center (SSTC). Unfortunately, the news is not good. KCE and its team, which includes Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. and Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc., found serious problems with the design, construction, concrete strength, concrete testing accuracy, adherence to fire codes, and many other issues that indicate the SSTC, as it is currently constructed, is severely compromised.
According to the thorough report, the facility contains significant and serious design and construction defects, including excessive cracking, missing post-tensioning cables, inadequate reinforcing steel, and concrete of insufficient strength and thickness. These deficiencies not only compromise the structural integrity of the facility but could also begin to impact the Transit Center’s durability far earlier than expected, thus shortening its useful life. At worst, if no changes are made, some of the facility’s elements may not withstand the loads they are intended to support – thereby putting the many users of the center at potential risk.
The County became concerned about the overall construction of the SSTC after we and others observed varying thicknesses of concrete throughout the structure, significant cracking, and exposed post-tensioning cables. The County hired a world-renowned firm that assembled a team of independent engineers who discovered that the problems at the SSTC far exceeded what was originally identified. Due to the serious nature of the findings and the revelation of additional design and construction issues, the report has taken more time – so the County can be sure exactly what it is dealing with and what needs to be done to make the SSTC the durable, safe facility it is intended to be.
There is some good news in the report. There are fixes that will make the SSTC safe and functional. However, these fixes will take time. No one wants the SSTC to open more than I do, but not at the expense of public safety or burdens to County taxpayers from future unanticipated costs.
I pledge that the County will move forward aggressively to ensure that needed repairs are made to get the SSTC open as soon as possible. It is my intent to resolve the remediation and compliance issues on the SSTC while we move, separately, to address issues of fault and liability.
The residents of Silver Spring and Silver Spring transit users deserve a facility that meets their needs. I intend to ensure that commuters have a functioning transit center, as promised. If required, I will pursue every legal and administrative remedy available to make sure that County interests – and County taxpayers – are protected throughout this process.
The full report – including all supporting documents – is available to the public online.