Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Transit Center Construction Actually More F'd Than Originally Thought

And you thought there was a chance that tons of concrete, steel and Metrobus would fall on your head at the transit center before.

Turns out the center's construction issues go well beyond the well-publicized improper concrete pours. The full report has yet to be released, but one of the apparent 'irregularities' involves the structure's pillars. Now, I'm no structural engineer, but I reckon these pillars play a key role in preventing the entire building from crashing down onto itself (and you).

You'd think Foulger-Pratt had never built anything before. Granted, some of the delays up to this point can be squarely blamed on MoCo government bureaucracy/incompetence, but this is getting ridiculous. 2013 opening? Not hardly. Try 2023. Or never.






75 comments:

Avocado said...

That is so sad.

FYI your video tells me it is currently unavailable when I click to play it.

Sligo said...

Strange, it works for me.

Anonymous said...

Why don"t they tear it down and start again? That makes more sense than just letting it sit there month after month. While they're at it, maybe they can wipe out the quarter guy.

Anonymous said...

"Why don"t they tear it down and start again? That makes more sense than just letting it sit there month after month."

Because Foulger isn't about to swallow the 80m(?) cost to rebuilding the thing and neither is the county. Obviously.

Anonymous said...

Except once a judge orders FP to pay for the building years from now. I'm glad the county has had these outside engineers come in and point out all the issues - this is definitely going to court and FP being on the hook for their screwups is an important outcome to this clusterfuck.

Handsome Ralph said...

I think that last five seconds of the video adequately describe how most of us feel about the project now...

Still though, I'm glad the county is bringing in independent engineers to look at the structure. Better to find faults now and rebuild (at FP's expense) than to let the structure suffer a collapse while in full use.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike City Place, at least I can envision that issue being resolved in my lifetime."



Would you like to take this opportunity to amend/retract? This is why the Transit Center should have won that poll hands down. City Place may suck but at least it is theoretically functional and isn't sitting entirely unused to the tune of $120million in public money.

Anonymous said...

NO TO NEW HOUSING DEVELOPMENT in Downtown Sivler SPring until this project is complete.

Anonymous said...

At this point it be quicker to tear it down and start over. Folger Pratt should also be banned from any future county projects. Even if it was their subcontractor this is ridiculous.

Jerry said...

And to think the Pentagon was constructed in 16 months...

"The original site was nothing more than wasteland, swamps and dumps. 5.5 million cubic yards of earth, and 41,492 concrete piles contributed to the foundation of the building. Additionally, 680,000 tons of sand and gravel, dredged from the nearby Potomac River, were processed into 435,000 cubic yards of concrete and molded into the Pentagon form. The building was constructed in the remarkably short time of 16 months and completed on January 15, 1943 at an approximate cost of $83 million. It consolidated 17 buildings of the War Department and returned its investment within seven years.

Source(s):

http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pentagon…

Sligo said...

Yes, it only figuratively fell on our heads.

Gray said...

Anonymous at 12:21: that made sense.

Does anyone know if FP is in good enough financial shape to pay for this? That's why these companies have to be bonded, right?

Isayaah Parker said...

Silver Spring station has got to be the ugliest station of the entire system. This monstrocity of a concrete mess has been festering for years, the longer they wait, the more unsafe it becomes. Extreme weather like SNOW piling on top and high winds won't help. Tear the shit down! Silver Spring is really pathetic these days. Bethesda WINS again with it's awesome transit center

Anonymous said...

The county and FP should both be held equally accountable for this.

i know the hippies on this blog will disagree but yes the county is just as much to blame.

looking at it from the counties perspective, if they really are innocent of stupidity here they will prove it by BANNING FP from any future county projects. There. Problem solved.

But you all know that wont' happen. The county will get into bed with them on a contract again and next time we won't notice the waste and mismanagement from both sides.

Gray said...

Excellent, well-reasoned argument, Anonymous at 1:43. Clearly only hippies could disagree with you there. It's made especially strong by you pointing out a way that the county could prove to you that they're not at all responsible, even though you've already decided that they are. I guess if they met your demands, they'd be hippies too, right?

Anonymous said...

Gray, am I wrong?


Would you bet that the county won't give FP another major contract in the next 10 years? How much money would you bet on that one?

Anonymous said...

Two idiotic comments at 1:43.

"Bethesda WINS again with it's awesome transit center"

Unless this is sarcasm, you have never been to Bethesda. Their subterranean, rat infested, pseudo-transit center is better than absolutely nothing. Not to mention it's about to be closed down for multiple years as the owner of the parking garage it resides in is renovating.

The dumbass ranting about hippies doesn't make sense on any level either - not only do hippies have nothing to do with anything, but the bidding process for this and other county projects is exceedingly transparent. The notion that FP was and will be given contracts due to some kickback or something is paranoid, at best.

Anonymous said...

"Gray, am I wrong?


Would you bet that the county won't give FP another major contract in the next 10 years? How much money would you bet on that one?"

I wouldn't bet anything. But that was not Gray's point, now was it?


Anonymous said...

"The notion that FP was and will be given contracts due to some kickback or something is paranoid, at best."

As much as I am loathe to defend the "hippie" troll, I suspect he simply meant that MoCo Council will simply not bother to actually try to hold FP accountable. That if and when this thing does get finished and open, everyone will be all smiles and lollipops, shaking hands at the opening and telling the press something to the effect of "It was a tough road to this point but we are glad it is finally open and we want to thank FP/MoCo Council for working with us to resolve our differences and deliver to the people of Silver Spring the bestest transit center in the whole wide world!"

At least that is what I envision happening.

Anonymous said...

that's exactly what will happen

Anonymous said...

The SSTC is clearly Maryland's version of the Big Dig, the over budget, over schedule, poorly engineered boondoggle in Boston. Now all we need is for ceiling tiles to start collapsing, lawsuits to be filed, and criminal charges to be pressed when it eventually opens.

Anonymous said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/more-problems-possible-at-silver-spring-transit-center/2013/03/04/f6964fde-852b-11e2-98a3-b3db6b9ac586_story.html

This article makes me believe the report is done and out. Council members get a review of it next week. Any delays after that are very troubling to me.

Anonymous said...

^^

I'll take bets that there will be a delay

Anonymous said...

Is it really necessary to call people dumbasses and hippies? Why not focus the anger on the transit center where it belongs? I am so sick of walking by that monstrosity every morning and seeing no work being done.

Anonymous said...

This "report", according to wtopnews was held in a closed hearing. In which no one knows who was there what facts were brought up and what the new issues are. In other words moco is whining and crying again over nothing. For every "independant" engineer moco has hired there ar equal number of engineers suggesting it is completely safe. This fiasco needs to end an just open th damn thing. Another epic liberal moco failure. There biggest gripe is that fp didn't use union labor to build it, so moco is fuming over that. Typical liberal moco morons.

Anonymous said...

For every "independant" engineer moco has hired there ar equal number of engineers suggesting it is completely safe.

I see your spelling is as competent as your logical facilities. Who, exactly, has said this is completely safe? By my count, exactly one party: Foulger Pratt. Golly gee, they would have absolutely no reason to lie, would they?

But of course, this isn't really about the Transit Center or MoCo is it? You are simply looking for another vehicle to spout off more trite and irrelevant jabs toward your imagined archenemy--THE LIBERALS DUH DUH DUH!!!!

jag2923 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
silverspringtrails said...

I see the large "Folger-Pratt" banner that was hanging proudly from the top level as been removed, and there are no signs admitting to who is the builder.
We should hang the "Folger-Pratt" sign back up - and help them take credit for this mess.

Anonymous said...

It is an embarrassment to Silver Spring and holding up building the structures that will surround it. Tear it down and get a different contractor. The current contractor seems to be in Montgomery County’s pocket with all of the development projects they get.

Anonymous said...

I am the guy saying its the counties fault as well as FP. BUT I agree with the above...lets hang the banner back up so everyone can that FP is the builder. Let's add a "facchinna" or whatever sign too.

Bottom line is, FP is at fautl but the County will use up tons of tax money in a court fight here. The center will get delayed, the costs will inflate etc. etc.

In the end we will get a crappy parking garage that is ugly and badly designed and FP will get further contracts whenever they want with the county.

Does anyone really believe that FP will be punished here? or anyone from the county will accept culpability or blame? Or anyone from any of this mess will suffer other than the residents or taxpayers?

The bottom line is: why does it take 5+ years and 100 million + to build a parking garage?

Anonymous said...

I think they took the FP banner down because according to them the project is pretty much done. What a joke. I really don't have the words to describe how irate this whole thing makes me. I place blame on the county and FP in equal parts. Can we as commuters sue them for the undue stress and hardship it has caused us?

Kev said...

Tear it down and rebuild to make it look more like its inspiration...

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kzuhsiwO5f1qb3mmfo1_500.jpg

Anonymous said...

Construction Insurance and Performance Bonds will pay most of the cost of the TC debacle if FP is found at fault. The big expense is if the cost of the debacle exceeds what was covered in the original contract. Which is why FP is fighting so hard.
BTW: WMATA inspectors found the problems. Where were the MoCo DOT engineers, who was checking the work in progress?
The TC is post-tensioned, meaning there are steel cables running through the slabs that were tightened after the concrete was poured. You cut a cable now and the building goes 'BOOM'. The cables have to be released and the decks removed and rebuilt. But if the columns are flawed then you have to start over.
The TC was never supposed to be visible - it was supposed to be hidden behind new buildings on Colesville and Wayne. They evaporated in the recession.
The next question is, 4 years from now when the TC is rebuilt, the Purple Line is supposed to FLY OVER the Metro Station and TC. If MoCo can't build a bus stop then how are they suppposed to build an elevated rail line?
Another thought - the Metropolitan Branch Trail bike bridge planned to FLY OVER Georgia Ave in front of the old CSX bridge. That Bridge and a tunnel is budgeted at $12 million. That's a low ball price to start with, can you imagine how much a bike bridge will cost by the time MoCo DOT is done screwing it up? How would you feel about paying $24 million for a bike bridge for 7/10 of a mile of bike trail?
Oh and the tiny section of the MBT that opened at the TC was so that the residents of the Solaire don't have to walk 5 blocks out of their way to get to the Metro station right next door.

Anonymous said...

I think the President of Foulger Pratt, John Brown, should stand outside of the transit center every morning and evening for a week and personally apologize to every commuter. Ike Leggett and the Director of MCDOT, Arthur Holmes can join him.
They can argue about who is paying, but its the commuters who are paying every single day.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:11
This information is very helpful. This project should start over or be leveled.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1:11 thanks for the great info.

Glad to see someone else who realizes it's not 100 percent the fault of the contractors.

But screw them too.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 1:11 - I'm curious where you got all this information. Obviously, you can't reveal your name, but can you give us some idea how you came about all of this?

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Instead of having to live with the hideous bus depot that was built, perhaps when this thing is demo'ed, the county can pick a nicer design. I'm personally a big fan of the original design with the grand stair:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/10434/get-to-know-the-silver-spring-transit-center/

It doesn't leave any room for the Purple Line, but come on, that thing is not getting built in the next 20 years.

Anonymous said...

The next question is, 4 years from now when the TC is rebuilt, the Purple Line is supposed to FLY OVER the Metro Station and TC. If MoCo can't build a bus stop then how are they suppposed to build an elevated rail line?

The Purple Line will be built (administered) by MTA, not Montgomery County. The only comparison we have is the extensive light rail built in Baltimore by MTA. The Purple Line is (fortunately) a much more modern light rail than the old technology from Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

Schadenfreude - The Transit Center is being talked about by every Contractor, Concrete Subcontractor, Engineer, Architect, and Developer in the Mid Atlantic. Probably a few municipal governments are happy its not them too.

Anonymous said...

Oy vey. I'm tired of walking all of the way around that thing. And the sight of it? It looks like something out of the former USSR. It's a giant, concrete, hideous looking monstrosity of a thing. Over $100 million for a parking garage with escalators and a few offices. I don't understand how this isn't getting MORE attention. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Of course its not getting more attnetion. ALL IS WELL IN MOCO.

just look over there while Ike Legget continues to do his job in a half assed manner and continues to raise taxes every five seconds.

Pay no attention when contractors swindle the county with sub par work, for maximum profits and then get hired repeatedly despite this!

No problem! Moco= up and coming!

Anonymous said...

This Wednesday everyone on this blog will have a chance to demand answers to those in power at the Montgomery County Council Town Hall meeting at AFI. Let's see how many of you show up and how many choose to limit your outrage to ranting in this blog. Announcement below:

Mont Co Council Town Hall Meeting
Date(s): 3/13/2013
Start Time: 3/13/2013 7:30 PM
End Time: 3/13/2013 9:30 PM
Location: AFI Downtown Silver Spring
Web Site: http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/Apps/Council/PressRelease/PR_details.asp?PrID=9221

Town Hall Meeting in Silver Spring
Let the County Council know what matters most to you at their Town Hall Meeting for the Silver Spring area on Wednesday, March 13, at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road. The event begins at 8 p.m. You can voice your opinions on specific issues and ask questions of them in an organized, but informal, setting.

The meeting will be taped for later broadcast on County Cable Montgomery (CCM—cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). For more information about the Town Hall Meeting or about the broadcast times, call 240-777-79

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear a helicopter this morning around 6-6:30? Very annoying and woke me up!

Anonymous said...

just wondering who keeps voting for ike 'useless' leggit

oranje_mama said...

I haven't read this anywhere, and I have no inside knowledge, but in my gut I'm sure that kickbacks/corruption are a factor here. We're in Maryland, after all.

Anonymous said...

Montgomery spends $1.5 million so far on Silver Spring Transit Center report

http://www.gazette.net/article/20130311/NEWS/130319974/1010/montgomery-spends-15-million-so-far-on-silver-spring-transit-center&template=gazette

Anyone still want to blame the contractors and excuse the county?

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course the county is 100% to blame for unearthing problems and attempting to remedy the situation. No one has ever put that on FP - they very much have decided to take a head-in-the-sand approach to follow up their ineptness.

Per Patch, the report should be complete by next week "A much-anticipated report on what may be wrong with the Silver Spring Transit Center is expected to be presented at next week's Montgomery County Council meeting, Councilman Roger Berliner (D-Dist 1) told Patch. Originally due in January, the analysis from KCE Engineering, a third-party firm, was reportedly delayed when unexpected structural issues were unearthed."

Hopefully all the issues can be remedied and we won't be starting from scratch next week (and by "next week" I mean "in five years after Foulger loses enough legal battles they finally own up to their complete and utter ineptness and replace the structure".

Anonymous said...

Anyone still want to blame the contractors and excuse the county?

What an asinine comment. First, of course I want to blame the contractors, as any right headed person would. They are the ones, after all that poured the concrete.

Second, it is not an either/or proposition. I believe the delays have been exacerbated by MoCo. I see the transit center from my living rooms and can tell you hardly anyone was on site until the middle of January, at which point the report was nearly dues. Now there are 6-12 trucks there everyday with people milling about. So I truly believe that MoCo dragged its feet in pushing KCE to get the report done.

Third what does the amount the county is spending to have this report done in any way related to "excusing" them? Please walk me through that logic. Unless you think the County should have just taken FP's word that everything is hunky dory and now they are just wasting money.

Anonymous said...

If you missed the city council meeting last night, there is another chance next week to get more excuses from MoCo council over their failure to open a parking garage despite a seemingly unlimited budget: http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/Discussion/PIOConfirmation.asp?schdID=50&type=2&discID=1

Anonymous said...

Not only is Scion opening soon, the owner is also "debuting a new food concept with NaiNai's, an Asian noodle and dumpling bar next door."

Good news for that egregiously under-served side of the tracks.

Anonymous said...

Was anyone actually at the meeting?

I am too busy to go myself but would love to hear the excuses.

Also to those who complain about the people complaining who dont come out: real life is sometimes too much of a hassle to go to these things. How about our leaders not screw us in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Gazette has a write-up. Unless you're too busy to read the news, too, which might be the case since you apparently think the council is trying to "screw" you. Yeah, they definitely have a lot to gain from this clusterfuck (sarcasm).

Anonymous said...

Read the "write up". Totally useless bullshit.

Much like you.

Anonymous said...

"Read the "write up". Totally useless bullshit.

Much like you."

Hey Anon at 10:30: Take a deep breath and let it out..and come down brah.

Anonymous said...

calm

Anonymous said...

Yeah, they definitely have a lot to gain from this clusterfuck (sarcasm).

I' not the poster you responded to, but I don't think you have to be conspiratorial or otherwise crazy to be totally disappointed with the lack of transparency or apparent sense of urgency coming from MoCo government.

Anonymous said...



Clearly the only reason anyone would point out that the county is culpable AND the council IS screwing us is that they are wingnut that believes in a conspiracy.

OR maybe the county council is just incompetent and that's how they are screwing us.

Ever thought of that one ? You point out that they have "nothing to gain" from this mess. Okay, true but what are they losing? They still get re-elected year after year and keep screwing up in the same ways. No threat to job security so yeah they can pretty much do whatever they want and then ask for more taxes to fix it.

No conspiracy needed, just good old "not qualified to do their jobs"

Anonymous said...

fp will not suffer till the county is punished by forcing them to ban fp from new contracts if this doesnt happen then fp will continue to do whatever it wants

Anonymous said...

Today is the big day. On Schedule for the Council today:
2:00 PROPOSED CLOSED SESSION for the purpose of consulting with counsel to obtain legal advice, and to consult about pending or potential litigation, pursuant to Maryland Code, State Government Article, §10-508 (a) (7) and (8). Topic is Silver Spring Transit
Center. (3rd floor Council Conference Room) (Orlin/Faden)

(8) 3:00 DISCUSSION - Review of Consultant’s Report on Silver Spring Transit Center (Orlin)
(3rd floor Council Hearing Room)

3:30 T&E Committee - Supplemental appropriation for Silver Spring Transit Center (Orlin)
3rd floor Council Hearing Room

Craig said...

If Montgomery County lawyers up

If Foulger Pratt lawyers up

We could be looking at an empty, fenced-off bus terminal in downtown Silver Spring for yeeeeears.

The County and FP construction have enough money to hire a battalion of lawyers and absolutely drown each other and the court with mountains of documents.

Anonymous said...

"We could be looking at an empty, fenced-off bus terminal in downtown Silver Spring for yeeeeears."

We could be looking at that whether or not both sides decide to lawyer up.

Anonymous said...

I have no particular familiarity with county contracting laws, but typically, the law governing government contracts in most jurisdictions is that you must continue to perform the contract even if there is a claim/litigation. In other words, the job should be finished, and then the disputing parties can sort out later whether the government must pay for the added work. I suppose FP could say that there's nothing more that it needs to do, but I would think that the court could decide that issue first.

Anonymous said...

report has been released here:
http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgtmpl.asp?url=/content/dgs/sstc-structural-report.asp

haven't read it yet, but Dise is saying things we all have suspected:

The report has shown the center to be unsafe. It won't be open by fall. It's "unusable" unless fixed. Extensive cracking, especially on parts where buses would have been on. People would have been hurt if FP had their way and the center opened without remediation. Opening date is unknown. Must first explore two options provided in report.

Anonymous said...

Kara Rose ‏@kararose_
David Dise says all of the problems at #SilverSpring Transit Center "can be fixed, will be fixed. ... We'll overcome those challenges."

Anonymous said...

So, essentially, the only good news is that they won't have to start from scratch. It's still going to take months of engineering work to even figure out what steps can be taken to remedy the errors.

Anonymous said...

Dise said 6 months to prepare the remediation documents. No idea on how long the actual fix would take.

The errors are serious, dangerously serious. The Engineer, the Inspectors, the Contractor all got equal blame.
There was missing post tension cables only discovered by the many cores they took during the investigation.
The concrete was badly mixed and not strong enough
The design was seriously flawed.
The WMATA construction standards were not part of the contract documents.
The structure was not designed or built to Building or Fire Codes, or up to expected industry standards.
The inspection companies didn't catch or record issues.
The SSTC will go in the textbooks on how not to do something.
The best moment in the council session was when the Council asked Dise to figure out a way to ease the pain to the commuters.
Too little too late.

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