Posted tagged ‘Silver Spring Transit Center’

Good News and Bad News

22 March 2014

Restoration is complete for the Sally Callmer mural of the commuting penguins that used to be displayed at the Silver Spring Metro station.  The mural, which was originally scheduled for a one-year display period, won the hearts of commuters and passersby in Silver Spring.  That’s why, when the mural was taken down a few years ago for restoration, those same passersby raised the private monies to restore the mural

The bad news: WMATA doesn’t plan to put the penguins back up until the Paul S. Sarbanes Super-Duper Bus Stop is completed.  See you in ten years, guys.

White Elephant / Black Hole on Colesville Road

19 September 2012

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.

Transit Pork, Again

31 July 2008

The county executive, the county council,  and the county planning board have been feuding lately.   It’s all about power struggles.  The planning board has rejected the county exec’s plans for the Silver Spring music center, because they fear he is taking too much authority away from them.  Now the question is about the Silver Spring Transit Center (Actually, that is technically the Paul S. Sarbanes Silver Spring Transit Center.)   You know we’ve got white elephant pork (the other white meat?) when the politicians are not only building monuments to themselves, but modestly naming it after themselves, too.)

In an earlier post, I questioned how much (not whether) the cost of this monstrosity would increase over the initial $75 million.  Now we are starting to see.  County Executive Leggett has asked for an additional $16.7 million for frills.  The Council doesn’t think that is enough, so they appropriated an additional $18.6 million.  Says Council member Valerie Ervin, “I think that we should be building buildings that are aesthetically beautiful.”

No, Valerie.  You should be conserving the taxpayers’ funds, rather than building monuments to politicians.  The purpose of the center is to bring together Metrorail, buses, and MARC at the same location.  That’s exactly what we have now – without spending an additional $100 million of county taxes.

This is a project that should be killed now, before construction begins.