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Report: Silver Line Garage is Sinking

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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Already plagued with problems, the D.C. Metro's Silver Line project, more formally known as the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, is now up against another issue: A garage being built as part of the project’s second phase is sinking, bringing work to a halt while an engineering firm investigates.

What's Happening

According to Fairfax County, Virginia, officials, the problem at the Innovation Center Metro was first brought to light back in July, when four of the 135 caissons, then being installed, were found to be sinking roughly 2 by 4 inches. The caissons serve as support for the eight-story garage.

Officials have noted that technical consultants have examined the site and are confident that there is no risk for collapse. An electronic monitoring system has been installed to detect any movement in the foundation, but there is no timeline for when construction will reconvene.

The garage is one of five being built for the second phase of the project; this particular structure is of note because it is the Metro station closest to one of the sites Virginia has pitched as a potential location for Amazon’s second headquarters. The garage was 65 percent completed when the issue was discovered, according to Carey F. Needham, director of building and design for the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.

Manhattan Construction has a $33.1 million contract with the county to build the garage. Brian Killion, vice president of operations for MC, told The Washington Post that the company is determined to find out what caused the sinking.

The garage projects are being managed separately from the rail project; both Fairfax and Loudoun counties have taken on building the garages. The Innovation Center garage is part of a larger retail and residential development, and is slated to accommodate 2,100 cars and 100 bicycles.

Silver Line's Problem History

The Silver Line project, being built by design-build contractor Capital Rail Constructors, was recently rocked by reports that employees of subcontractor Universal Concrete Products, of Stowe, Pennsylvania, falsified concrete test reports, certifying panels that were not made to specification. Andrew Nolan, who served as QC manager at the firm and allegedly oversaw the cooking of the books, pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The QC team at UCP allegedly changed values on reports indicating the air and water content of the concrete mixtures, and sourced aggregate from a different quarry than it had originally proposed, potentially leaving the door open to the alkali-silica reaction, in which aggregate reacts with cement paste, often creating cracking and spalling.

The whistleblower lawsuit, filed in 2016 by former UCP quality-control employee Nathan Davidheiser, was joined this year by the federal government and commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to the allegations leveled against Nolan, the suit states that company executives ignored internal complaints about the fraudulent practice and in some cases demoted or even terminated employees who attempted to put a stop to the false reports.

Late last week, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Office of the Inspector General announced it will take over the investigation into quality-control issues on the $2.8 billion project.


Tagged categories: Government; Infrastructure; Maintenance + Renovation; North America; Parking Garages; Project Management

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