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Concrete Flap Halts $101M Transit Hub

Thursday, February 2, 2012

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Construction of a $101 million Maryland transit hub has stalled abruptly and indefinitely over allegations that concrete in the structure was poured improperly.

Montgomery County Council members met Monday (Jan. 30) to assess what they call “major flaws” in the concrete for the Silver Spring Transit Center, now under construction just outside of Washington, D.C.

 Silver Spring Transit Center

 Montgomery County Government

Construction of the $101 million Silver Spring Transit Center has been delayed indefinitely amid allegations of improper concrete work.

At issue is a significant dispute between the county and the general contractor over the concrete’s thickness and other issues.

‘Serious Problem’

David E. Dise, the county’s general services director, has contended that concrete was poured improperly in “a few parts” of the transit hub, The Washington Post reported.

At a news conference Monday, County Council President Roger Berliner called the situation a "serious problem."

“Specifications for the project called for there to be 10 inches of concrete,” Berliner told reporters.  “The analysis that has been done has shown that for significant portions of the second floor and the third floor, there's only eight and a half inches.”

The problems affect about half of the second floor and extensive areas of the third floor, said county officials, who provided diagrams of the problem.

The officials said that a more thorough analysis will be completed in March and that the prime contractor, Foulger-Pratt, of Rockville, MD, will propose a solution at that time.

“We are awaiting a proposal from the contractor with respect to remediation,” said Berliner. “Under the terms of the arrangement, the contractor has the right and the obligation to come forth with a remediation plan.”

Contractor: No Structural Issue

Bryant F. Foulger, a principal for the contractor, told The Washington Post that his company’s tests showed no problem with the structure and that any thickness differences in the concrete were within the appropriate range.

Foulger told the newspaper that his company’s structural engineers were awaiting the county’s analyses and data for further review.

“We don’t think there is a structural issue at all,” he said.

The project’s concrete subcontractor was Facchina Construction Co., of LaPlata, MD, a heavy/highway civil contractor founded in 1987. Facchina did not respond to the Post’s requests for comment on the issue.

Lawsuit Hinted

County lawmakers went into private session to discuss possible litigation, although Dise said no decision on legal action had been made.

Berliner said, however, "I am a lawyer and I would say to you where there is a mistake, and a lot of money involved, that increases the chances of litigation exponentially.”

Dise said the county could charge a penalty of $8,700 a day for delays because of poor performance by the prime contractor or its subs, but that Foulger-Pratt would cover the expense of any additional construction.

Spalling and Flaking

The problems date to last August, when officials noticed spalling and flaking concrete on the structure, which is being built by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, known as Metro.

Metro performed its own analyses, the county had a laser analysis done in November, and a more technical analysis was completed in late December, the Post said.

Now, Metro officials say they cannot even estimate when the project might be completed,

The delay is at least the eighth for the facility, reports said. Construction began in September 2008, and completion was initially set for 2009. The project was originally budgeted at $75 million.

The hub, to be named for former U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, will bring together local light rail, Amtrak, intercity bus lines, taxis and other transportation services.

   

Tagged categories: Concrete stamping; Flaking; Rail; Transportation

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