Structural problems at the Silver Spring Transit Center, shown here in October, go far beyond improperly poured concrete, as originally reported.
The structurally flawed Silver Spring Transit Center is absorbing more taxpayer money and promises to eat up even more, as the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday approved an additional $7 million to pay for construction work already completed at the transit hub, which is two years behind schedule and about $80 million over budget.
The $7 million approved by county lawmakers has nothing to do with major design and construction problems detailed in a county report released two weeks ago that will require unknown millions to fix. When it comes to who will pay to repair those problems, county officials say it will likely be determined in litigation with the project's contractors.
"We will move expeditiously to make sure that we make the necessary repairs and that the taxpayers of Montgomery County will not have to pay for the flaws of the contractor," says County Executive Ike Leggett.
Leggett has threatened to cancel the county's contract with Foulger Pratt and other contractors and sue to recover any funds paid to fix the transit center's construction issues, like inadequately thick concrete.
"Whatever we spend we will get back because we are going to pursue to the ultimate degree of the law and the legal process to make sure the county is reimbursed for anything we may have to put out in advance," says Leggett.
Council President Nancy Navarro echoed Leggett's vow to go to court, if necessary, to protect taxpayers but left open the possibility the county is also responsible for the mess at the transit center.
"I have not said at any moment that the county could not have some responsibility in this. It is possible," says Navarro, who says the transit center could open to the public while any litigation proceeds.
No lawsuits have been filed yet.
Contractor Foulger Pratt has said the county's design plan was flawed from the start. Company executive Bryant Foulger has said any safety issues concerning concrete and reinforcing steel bars are the county's responsibility.