Silver Spring Transit Center: Metro backs out

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP/ABC7) -{ }What was supposed to be a centerpiece for downtown Silver Spring is again mired in a cloud of uncertainty. Metro says it won't operate the Silver Spring Transit Center as planned because flaws make it too expensive to maintain.

The three-level bus and train hub is over budget and already more than two years behind schedule. Repairs are expected to take at least another year. Metro says it still plans to operate Metrobus service from the center, but won't pursue inter-city bus operations there.

“It’s just a waste of money,” says Dinita Dausuel, a commuter.{ }

And that means a tougher commute for Dausuel, who cannot imagine the project taking any longer to open.{ }

“I think they should just go ahead and finish it, but if it’s hazardous and it didn’t meet inspections, no one should use it,” she says.{ }

And that's exactly why WMATA has decided not to operate or maintain the hub.{ }

In a letter to Montgomery County, WMATA says it has “concerns for the design and construction of the project.”{ }

Construction started in 2008, but the center still has not opened, is $80 million over budget, and has been deemed structurally deficient. WMATA officials say the “deficiencies of the design and construction of the facility are of the magnitude and severity that even if repaired would place an inordinate maintenance burden onto WMATA.”{ }

Tina Slater of the Action Committee for Transit has been playing close attention to the project for years. Earlier this week, her group handed out information, reminding people how long it’s taken to get this up and running.

“Aside from the fact that it’s been delayed so long and we don’t know when it will open this year, this is yet another slam in the head,” Slater says.

The county only provided a statement, in which county officials say:

“The remediated Transit Center will open with the expected 50-year life span with full service at no additional cost to county taxpayers once the prescribed fixes are completed. “

The replacement of cracked concrete in the center is expected to begin this summer. No opening date has been announced.