Numerous and lengthy delays in the opening of the $108 million Silver Spring Transit Center are mainly the result of a lack of cooperation and communication on the part of the Montgomery County officials responsible for the project, general contractor Foulger-Pratt alleges in the latest claim filed in defense of its work.
In a Notice of Delay dated Jan. 18, the contractor states that the government failed to allow the two sets of engineers to meet and discuss structural issues and didn't allow the company to move forward with plans to correct the concerns.
"The building is safe—our engineers have concluded that, the county engineers have concluded that," Bryant Foulger, a principal at Foulger-Pratt, told Patch. "It’s just a matter of addressing some of these county concerns about what they want to do and what they want us to do.
"We’re just really, really frustrated," he continued.
County officials said last year that the concrete in some parts of the three-tiered structure had been incorrectly poured, resulting in cracking. Foulger said his company submitted a plan to correct the cracking last March and again in May, with no action from the county.
"We responded to concrete concerns very promptly," Foulger said. "[The county] won’t let us do what the county engineers told us to do and won’t tell us what they want us to do."
The cracking doesn't make the building unsafe, he said, but the county believes it would affect the maintainability of the project. Foulger said the cracking is the result of poor design, which his company did not handle.
"There are some design issues associated with that," Foulger said. "As general contractors, we build what shows up on the specs."
A representative from the county's general services department did not respond to requests for comment, but county spokesperson Patrick Lacefield told the Gazette newspaper Thursday that the government will respond once it receives the final report from an outside consultant on the cracking.
“Depending on those findings, the county, of course, may be advancing claims of its own on behalf of county taxpayers,” Lacefield said.
Foulger-Pratt has been a prolific builder in downtown Silver Spring, having been involved in constructing AFI Silver Theatre, Majestic Cinema, the downtown Silver Spring Retail Center, parking garages and several apartment buildings, including the upcoming Citron apartments on Pershing Drive.
The company's presence downtown makes the delay even more frustrating, Foulger said.
"We know the community is anxious to get this transit center," he said. "We are anxious for them, we want to use it."
The project will create space for taxis, Kiss and Ride cars and a network of buses near the Silver Spring Metro and MARC stations. David Dise, head of the county's general services department, said the building will open late summer 2013.