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Metro Sticks To Stance That Fixes Needed For Silver Spring Transit Center

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The Silver Spring Transit Center is years late and millions of dollars over budget, and still requires fixes before it can open.
WAMU/Jared Angle
The Silver Spring Transit Center is years late and millions of dollars over budget, and still requires fixes before it can open.

In Maryland, the Silver Spring Transit Center still isn't close to opening. And now Metro is defending a letter it sent two months ago saying it might not operate the center when it does open.

After receiving an update on fixed planned for the center's concrete and support problems, Montgomery County Council members got their first chance to question why Metro sent the letter in April, after construction and design flaws in the much-maligned building came into better focus. To many, like councilman Marc Elrich, Metro caused an unnecessary panic by making the threat.

"It made it sound to everybody like, 'This project is a disaster and was never going to work.' And at the end [Metro] says, 'No, there isn't any significant structural flaws... we're not worried about that.' That's not the impression that got created in people's minds," he said.

Under a 2008 agreement Metro would take over the center's operations from the county upon its completion. But since then there have been very public battles over who to blame for the design flaws. Metro assistant general manager Rodrigo Bitar says their threat came out of frustration with all the fighting.

"Obviously after that memorandum, the communication improved tremendously. All the parties re-engaged to try to remediate all the known problems. These problems were not new," he said.

Bitar says tests must show the construction fixes being promised by the county have corrected the problems for Metro to re-evaluate their stance. Work on those fixes could start next month.

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