Whatever You Do, Don’t Cut the Frills!

The Silver Spring Transit Center is to be constructed at the Silver Spring Metro station, beginning this fall. Here’s the description of the project from the Department of Public Works and Transportation:

“The eight acre site will be developed to accommodate a multi-level, pedestrian friendly complex supporting rail traffic (Metro and MARC), bus traffic (local and inter-city) and automobile traffic (taxi service and Kiss and Ride). Major features include doubling the number of bus bays, a 4,500 square feet inter-city bus building, and extensive provisions for safe pedestrian and vehicular traffic movement under a landmark canopy.”

Now, this is a very busy area. Not only is the Silver Spring metro station the second busiest in the system (after Metro Center), it also has the most bus traffic in the entire DC area. But what exactly is the benefit of the consolidation from this project? Note that Metro, MARC, local bus traffic, taxi service, and Kiss and Ride are already at the site now. The “intercity bus building” should be built by the intercity bus companies. I suppose the point of spending $75 million is to facilitate the the connection to the Bi-County Transitway.

But don’t you go thinking this is some ordinary three-story bus garage; no sir. This is a fancy three-story bus garage; or, as the county describes it, a “first class”, “state of the art”, “maintainable” (??), and “inviting” … bus garage. Last week, the county council heard from Wendy Perdue and Meredith Wellington of the county Planning Board

(Oddly enough, both Perdue and Wellington are at the end of their terms on the board; wonder why they chose the lame ducks to testify?) The topic of “value engineering” was brought up. Value engineering is a pretty standard step in construction, and required by several federal laws for projects using federal funds. It entails examining the project design to see if efficiencies can be reached in achieving project goals.

The board members were incensed at the idea of saving any money on this worthwhile project. “I’m disappointed the county wasn’t willing to do what is truly state of the art”, complained Perdue. When asked about the the cost of frosted glass canopies over walkways and and stairwells, Wellington replied, “Without these glass features, you have a concrete building with very little interest.”

Taxpayers are entitled to have the council examine the value of the costs for any taxpayer project. Federal projects are required to conduct value engineering on any project exceeding $25 million; the SSTC is scheduled to cost $75 million. (I think Leviathan Montgomery should start a betting pool on the ultimate cost of the project). It’s presumptuous of the planning board members to show such disdain for an attempt to preserve taxpayer dollars. You can see the project here.

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3 Comments on “Whatever You Do, Don’t Cut the Frills!”


  1. It’s unspoken preparation for the “purple line”. Trust me. 😉


  2. […] Leviathan Montgomery complains about renovations happening to the Metro Station in Silver Spring, MD on a gargantuan scale. As I mention in his comments, my guess is that the “enhancements” he is complaining about has to do with future construction of the long argued about “purple line” (thus far, vaporware only). This blogs also happens to be one of the few blogs in the MBA that is run on WordPress (in this case, WordPress.com), so we have to do a shout out. Share This Filed under Technosailor, maryland at 8:48 am – […]

  3. Zinzindor Says:

    Seems that way, Aaron: ” I suppose the point of spending $75 million is to facilitate the the connection to the Bi-County Transitway.” BCT is the official name for the Purple Line, right now.


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