Nobody does high dudgeon quite like Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal. The Washington Post reported that his latest expression of outrage was in response to the Council having to approve another $21.2 million for the Silver Spring Transit Center:
General Services director David Dise, lead county official overseeing the project, offered no specific opening date but said repairs would be complete “by late May, certainly in the spring.”
Dise’s forecast drew a stiff response from Council President George Leventhal (D-At Large), who said some county taxpayers are so deeply frustrated with the delay that they advocate tearing down the building.
“Mr. Dise, a growing number of my constituents don’t believe anything you say anymore,” Leventhal said. “And I’m hearing from constituents that they think the promises are covering up a structurally-flawed building that ought to be torn down, that we ought to declare a loss and give up.”
County residents are rightly upset about the management of this project. The Transit Center was supposed to open four years ago and is massively more expensive than originally intended:
While pungent responses towards people testifying before the Council are nothing new for George Leventhal, his views on cost increases here contrast sharply with his stance regarding far greater increases on another transportation project.
Purple Line Double Standard
George is a lot more bothered by some cost increases than others. A huge fan of the Purple Line, he seems unconcerned about its rising cost and argues vociferously against anyone who opposes the project. And the costs have doubled to $2.4 billion (table below from the Washington Post), an increase that makes the spike in the Transit Center’s cost look piddling.
Indeed, the latest cost increase of $220 million was more than the entire price of the Silver Spring Transit Center. The consistent increases in costs suggest manipulation as costs should sometimes go down if estimates are randomly off. Moreover, costs have increased even though the promised quality of the project continues to decline. The Bethesda Terminus has been downgraded and the tunnel for the Capital Crescent Trail under Wisconsin Ave. shelved.
Yet George will brook no opposition to his pet project. The contrast is especially striking as Parsons Brinckerhoff has been involved heavily in the design of both the Transit Center and the Purple Line. Despite the Transit Center fiasco, MTA remains unwilling to disclose how Parsons calculated ridership figures for the proposed light rail project.