News & Politics

A Timeline of Failure for the Silver Spring Transit Center

The Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center, right, at the nadir of its delays. Photograph by Flickr user Elvert Barnes.

In March 2006, the Montgomery County government revealed plans to add a three-floor transit center to the Silver Spring Metro station by mid-2009. Now, after nearly a decade of design and construction problems, it’s finally set to open on Sunday.

Metro promises the structure—officially named the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Center in honor of the longest-serving senator in Maryland history—will contain more than 30 bus bays for Metrobus, Montgomery County Ride-On, VanGo, and the University of Maryland’s shuttle. It will also include amenities like real-time bus-scheduling information, public restrooms, water fountains, and enhanced neighborhood map displays.

But the pledge of decluttered vehicle lanes and clean, accessible toilets has proved difficult to deliver, thanks to myriad issues spanning from deficient building designs to recurring mistakes with pouring, solidifying, and inspecting the site’s concrete. The nightmarish string of setbacks culminated in a $166 million lawsuit filed last month by Montgomery County and WMATA against the project’s designer, general contractor, and inspection firm for “negligence” and “breach of contract.”

After years of bungling the project, though, all hands seem to be on deck for Sunday’s opening.

“We can state with convince that it’s safe, durable and meets the original objective of the project from way back in 2009,” says David Dise, the director of Montgomery County’s Department of General Services. “The fact that it took us a while to get here is a testament to the thoroughness we applied once we discovered things had been done wrong.”

As we wait for something else to go awry before Sunday, here is a timeline of the problems that have plagued the transit center so far.

This timeline was compiled thanks in part to detailed record keeping over at Action Committee For Transit’s website.