A structural evaluation of the Silver Spring Transit Center in Silver Spring, Md., identifies construction and design problems that will further delay the opening of the facility to the public.
Millions of dollars over budget and two years behind schedule, the yet-to-be completed transportation hub has been in limbo since, in 2010, extensive cracking was noticed in some of the structure's slabs. In 2012, the county commissioned a team, led by Washington, D.C.-based KCE Structural Engineers, to perform a complete analysis of the structure.
KCE's report, released on March 15, is critical of the design and construction teams involved in the project. New York City-based Parsons Brinckerhoff provided the design; Rockville, Md.-based Foulger-Pratt provided construction services. The building itself is a cast-in-place, post-tensioned reinforced-concrete structure that will provide parking and access to public transportation for Maryland commuters.
"Structural slabs in the Silver Spring Transit Center facility have cracked as a result of a combination of design errors and omissions, insufficient design/construction coordination, and the as-built concrete material properties as placed," the report concludes.
KCE says the design does not meet applicable building codes and created a structural imbalance that resulted in widespread cracking in the building's slabs, beams and girders. The construction team also "did not construct structural elements of the … facility in accordance with the contract documents, ASIs, and RFI responses," KCE concludes.
KCE outlined a remediation plan in the report. "The county is cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to remediate the structure … and that both Foulger-Pratt as the general contractor and Parsons Brinckerhoff as the design firm will honor their contractual obligations and see that this project gets completed," says John Markovs, deputy county attorney for Montgomery County, Md.
How quickly repairs are made will depend largely on whether Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineer of record on the project, buys into the report's conclusions, Markovs says. A spokeswoman for Parsons Brinckerhoff referred ENR's calls to county officials.
Foulger-Pratt's managing principal, Bryant Foulger, says his firm is reviewing the report. However, Foulger contends the county shut the construction team out of the project once the cracking was discovered. "The way in which this report was developed … is indicative of the County's conduct throughout this entire process," he said in an emailed statement. "We made numerous requests for meetings between our engineers and the County's engineers in order to sit down, as professionals, address any concerns, and move forward. … The County consistently refused to allow any professional dialogue."
Markovs says the problems were more widespread, and that Foulger-Pratt's recommended solution for the cracking—silane waterproofing—was not satisfactory. "To suggest just a waterproofing covering without doing a full-blown analysis didn't seem like the responsible thing for the county to do," he says. "But for the county's doing a full-blown analysis of the structure, we never would have learned about any of [the structure's] latent defects," he says.