Silver Spring Transit Center
On the Silver Spring Transit Center, my actions reflect my values of transparency and accountability. I called for funding for the Inspector General to investigate the debacle, and I agree with the IG’s conclusions that the county needs to change how it handles such projects. I also requested the executive branch to open access to the Metropolitan branch trail on an interim basis, which they then did, which helps at least some residents walking through.
The Executive Branch has assigned responsibility for the transit center’s problems to the designer and the general contractor, and I agree that the contractors failed to properly build the Transit Center that we hired them to build. But we need to better understand how we manage our construction projects.
At the County Council’s request, the Office of Legislative Oversight issued a report on the subject of change orders in county construction projects. The report recommended that the county assess its projects for risk, particularly when the projects are renovations, occur on previously developed sites or are particularly complex and unusual. (The transit center certainly features the latter two characteristics.) The report then recommends that the county consider a range of risk mitigation measures on especially risky sites, including unit pricing for labor and materials on change orders, extensive pre-construction site testing, third party design review and alternative procurement procedures like design-build (which puts risk on the construction contractor). If these procedures had been in place years ago, we may have been able to prevent at least some of the problems at the transit center. I will work to make sure these procedures are followed in the future.