White Elephant / Black Hole on Colesville Road

The completely pointless Silver Spring Transit Center (formal name: Paul S. Sarbanes SuperDuper Bus Stop) is surely a waste of tax dollars, but we don’t yet know how much.

A monument to a politician (“Hey look what I built with my own two hands! Ain’t I wonderful?), the Center brings no additional usefulness to MoCo.  Originally, the project was planned by the Maryland Transit Administration, as an upgrade to the bus depot and parking lot; the cost was estimated at $35M.  However, that wasn’t good enough for Montgomery County, which likes things more grandiose.  The expanded design was priced at $75 million, scheduled to open in 2009.  Since then, the Center has been repeatedly delayed and increased in price.  Construction costs were underestimated. (Surprise! Who could have guessed?), but we don’t know yet by how much.  In addition, the county Department of General Services has raised questions about the quality of construction, and it is not yet clear what might need to be repaired, or at what cost in time or funds.

This spring, the County Dept of General Services was saying that the only solution may be to tear down already built construction.

Besides the taxpayers, here are some other losers from this project, so far:

– The handicapped:  I once had to explain to a man with a cane that buses were several blocks away, and even a cab was several blocks away.  If you are handicapped and trying  to use the Silver Spring metro station, you are just screwed.]  Everything is just too far away for those who are in wheelchairs or just have difficulty walking.

– Cab drivers:  The ad hoc taxi stand is very far away from the Metro station, so they lose business.  Even so, it is much smaller than the cab space needed, so the Post reports that cabs are sometimes ticketed for being parked illegally.

What we do know is that the Center is at least three years overdue, and at least 25% over budget – the cost has more than tripled from that $35M estimate to over $112M.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Budget and Taxes, Edifice Complex, Transportation

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