A May 30 settlement in a convoluted legal dispute over an array of project issues on a much-delayed and overbudget bus-rail hub in a Washington, D.C. suburb, has brought parties less than they hoped for.

Montgomery County, Md., had sought $67 million from designer Parsons Brinckerhoff, general contractor Foulger-Pratt Contracting LLC and construction inspection firm Robert Balter Co., claiming they shared responsibility for pervasive concrete cracking and spalling problems found during construction of the 259,000-sq-ft, cast-in-place Silver Spring (Md.) Transit Center. The three-story structure opened in 2015 five years late, costing about $120 million, up significantly from its original $75-million project estimate.

A 2013 investigation by an outside structural engineering firm linked the concrete problems to design and construction “errors and omissions,” such as insufficient steel reinforcement to accommodate torsion and shear forces generated by the expected movement of up to 120 buses through the facility each hour. Foulger-Pratt countered the lawsuit with its own $11-million claim against the county, citing poor management of the construction contract and alleging it was still owed money for its work.

In the pact, the county agreed to accept $25 million from PB, Balter and concrete subcontractor Facchina Construction Co., which was not named as a defendant in the original lawsuit. County Executive Isiah Leggett said in a statement that the amount “will cover 90% of the hard costs we incurred to deliver a safe and durable” facility.

But the county also must pay Foulger-Pratt $3 million. In a statement, contractor Managing Principal Bryant Foulger said the “amicable resolution” of the competing claims “allows all parties to move forward without further litigation and related costs.” The settlement also frees all parties from acknowledging any negligence or wrongdoing, but prohibits them from publicly disparaging each other in the future. 

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), which assumed operation and maintenance of the transit center upon completion, reached a separate settlement with the design and construction team. Terms have not been announced.

—Jim Parsons