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Montgomery County officials says transit center cracks aren't safety issue

Wednesday - 7/24/2013, 5:41am  ET

WASHINGTON - It sounds pretty ominous: "We have a structure that is cracking and continues to crack and that is a problem."

That's how Tom Robinson with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority described the flaws in the Silver Spring Transit Center. They are flaws he says haven't been fixed adequately, despite the contractors' efforts to seal the cracking.

David Dise, director of General Services with Montgomery County, which is overseeing the $120 million project, says those cracks aren't a problem.

"Some of those cracks are due to normal cracking, some of them that were sealed in the winter months may have some challenges, but can be remediated in the warm weather," Dise said.

But Robinson's description was grim.

"The building continues to move, and continues to crack. The sealing with the epoxy in the cracks was not effective," Robinson said.

Both men spoke before the Montgomery County Council Tuesday and the continued impasse between county officials and WMATA over the condition of the project clearly frustrated councilmembers.

At one point, an irritated Councilman Roger Berliner, D-District 1, told WMATA officials, "I gotta tell ya, it isn't clear to me that you guys are really working with us, OK?"

After the meeting, Berliner told reporters he suspected that WMATA is simply positioning itself so it can walk away from the Memorandum of Understanding that would require WMATA to take on the cost of operating and maintaining the transit center.

"We do not have a structural issue, we do not have a safety issue. We do have cracking, we do have issues that need to be fixed and can be fixed. Nothing has changed in that regard," Berliner said.

If WMATA and Montgomery County officials can come to an agreement on how to repair cracks that cropped up during construction of the building, Dise says the project could be completed and handed over to WMATA by the end of the year.

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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