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County Spends More On Silver Spring Transit

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Published on: Thursday, April 04, 2013

By Holden Wilen

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Council decided to appropriate an additional $7.5 million for the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center at the request of the county executive Tuesday morning.

 According to a memo from County Executive Ike Leggett to the county council, the supplemental appropriation covers project delay costs and cost increases related to site improvements, utilities and construction. $2.2 million of the cost is for additional legal fees, engineering consultant fees and county staff changes, which, according to the memo, Leggett will try to recoup from the contractors. The remaining $5.3 million is for cost increases and change orders not directly associated with the delay.

The transit center has already cost taxpayers more than $112 million.

Councilman Roger Berliner said while he is unhappy about the experience with the transit center, the money needs to be spent in order to get the project done, regardless of who ends up paying for it.

“We will leave to the lawyers the finger pointing,” Berliner said. “Our job as a council is to see to it that there is no further delay.”

During the council’s discussion on the issue Councilwoman Valerie Ervin questioned what the money was actually being spent for. Councilwoman Nancy Floreen said the project needs to move forward, but she agreed with Ervin’s questions.

Representatives from Leggett’s office indicated the money had already been committed through decisions which have already been made, but the explanation given was vague, Floreen said.

“We have a very difficult time controlling those kinds of costs from (the council’s) perspective because they are presented to us as if they are complete,” Floreen said. “If you notice, (Leggett’s representatives) really were not specific. No one has been specific, and I really do think that we really need to stay on this very carefully. We need to move this (project) forward, but we do need to know without obfuscation from anyone as to what the costs are.”

In order to keep the public informed on the progress of the transit center Council President Nancy Navarro and Berliner, who is the chair of the transportation, infrastructure, energy and environment committee, sent a memo to Leggett asking for regular briefings on the progress of the transit center. The first briefing is scheduled for the council meeting on April 30.

The members of the council are trying to exercise what oversight they can, Floreen said, but the council is not the manager of the project.

“It is a county executive problem,” Floreen said.

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