Trial Begins in Silver Spring Transit Center Lawsuit

Montgomery County is attempting to recover more than $40 million in cost overruns in the complex case


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Silver Spring Transit Center

Montgomery County

Attorneys for Montgomery County and the contractors that built the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center delivered their opening arguments Wednesday in the lawsuit set to determine who was responsible for problems that resulted in years of construction delays and cost overruns at the bus depot.

The case is scheduled for a 30-day jury trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville. The county is aiming to recover about $45 million in cost overruns and about $20 million in damages from project developers Parsons Brinckerhoff, Foulger-Pratt and other companies that handled engineering and design for the downtown transit center.

The county is alleging the contractors it hired to build the center were negligent and made misrepresentations in design documents that resulted in concrete cracking before the transit center opened. Fixing the problems forced the county to spend millions to strengthen the structure, according to an account of the opening arguments in The Daily Record.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Parsons Brinckerhoff, Foulger-Pratt and other contractors alleged the completed transit center was strong and safe and that the county failed to address any issues with construction while crews were building it, according to the report. The contractors are also attempting to recover millions of dollars for work they performed that they said the county failed to pay for.

NBC4 reported Wednesday county officials are under orders not to discuss the trial out of concern that it could bias the jury and the county has removed references to the transit center from its website. A county Department of General Services webpage that had information about remediation efforts at the transit center is no longer up.

Earlier this year, the County Council approved a supplemental $4.2 million appropriation to pay for legal expenses related to the case.

The county is alleging the contractors failed to identify shear and torsion issues in the structure as it was being built that later resulted in the cement cracking.

More than 10 million pages of documents have been filed in the case, which county attorney Marc Hansen previously described as the biggest and costliest in his six-year tenure. Metro, which now operates the center after the county turned it over to the transit agency, was originally part of the case, but settled just before the trial, according to The Daily Record.

The county ended up spending about $140 million on the bus depot, which opened in 2015—five years late and about $47 million over budget.

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