Public transportation

1,700 Concrete Panels on D.C.'s Overdue Silver Line Metro Extension Are Defective

Project managers say resealing and replacing the panels will not delay the project further.


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Washington, D.C.'s overdue, overbudget Silver Line Metro route extension has hit another snag: Some 1,700 concrete panels laid on the $2.8 billion project are defective.

According to WRC-TV, the local NBC affiliate that broke the story yesterday, issues with the concrete include an unbalanced mix of cement and water, too little concrete covering steel inside the panels, and "insufficient safeguards for water to expand and contract," all of which could lead to cracking. Most of the concrete will have to be resealed, and at least 65 panels will have to be replaced entirely.

This added work supposedly will not affect the projected 2020 completion date. "We are confident at this point that the mitigations are solutions that will result in not just a safe system, but one that will last 100 years," the project's executive director, Charles Stark, told The Washington Post.

The construction of D.C.'s Silver Line, which is supposed to connect the western reaches of Maryland's Prince George County to Virginia's Dulles International Airport has suffered multiple delays during the project's 16-year history. The first phase of the Silver Line, which runs from Largo, Maryland to Reston, Virginia, was completed in 2014, six months behind schedule and $225 million over budget.

Phase 2, which will extend the Silver Line to Dulles International Airport and the suburban communities of Virginia's Loudoun County, has met a similar fate. Building began in 2014 with the goal a 2018 finish date. That got pushed back to 2020 about a year into construction. According to Marica McCallister, a spokeswoman for the project, stricter storm water management requirements were responsible for that delay, which added about $95 million in costs.

The bill for the second phase is being split between Loudon and Fairfax counties in Virginia and the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (WMAA), which is in charge of construction. The Federal Transit Administration loaned the counties and the WMAA a total of $1.9 billion to finance the project.

The WMAA blames the concrete mishap on the supplier, Universal Concrete Products, which is now the subject of a criminal probe.

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  1. Do the panels serve some function or are they a cosmetic (noise abatement?) feature that could be installed and/or replaced at any point in the line’s functional life (if it’s ever birthed into functionality)?

    1. They serve a function of keeping water out. If they are defecting the trains will short.

      1. Unless this is a joke, I’m still not getting it. Maybe I’m dense, but a couple hundred pounds of concrete and steel being placed overhead to hold up several… lbs. maybe of sealant to prevent seepage doesn’t make any sort of sense. Even if they’re some manner of absorption/wicking/evaporation substrate, concrete and steel seems like a terrible choice.

        All the engineers I went to school with and, apparently, none of them were civil.

        1. Most of it is for decorative purposes. It is a silly brutalist design. And you are right, it makes no sense. But that is how they do it.

        2. The panels only keep the tunnel from collapsing. It’s a small but important job.

    2. The panels are in important part of the invoice.

      1. It would be more temporally consistent if they chiseled the invoice into the panels.

  2. …and “insufficient safeguards for water to expand and contract,” all of which could lead to cracking.

    Should have let the president drain the swamp like wanted.

  3. Brought to you by the same low bidder that built Boston’s ‘Big Dig’?

    1. Someone from ‘Universal Concrete Products’ will be around to, uh, explain the situation later. He answers to “Knuckles”.

      1. And he will be glad to encase your feet in some very special concrete shoes!


    Cosby guilty. Very sad.

      1. The worst part is that he appears to be guilty as hell. At first, I wondering about the prosecution getting a bunch of uncharged misconduct in front of the jury. But then I read that the misconduct were rapes that were past the statute of limitations. Something like a seven or eight women came forward and testified under oath that he drugged and raped them. Hard to believe they were all lying. I always like him. And he was one of the most brilliant comics of the 20th Century. What a waste. He was a celebrity. Why on earth did he get off on drugging women?

        1. Why on earth did he get off on drugging women?

          I suspect he may not have gotten off on drugging them– it was just the only way he could achieve consent.

          1. He was a famous entertainer. I seriously doubt he had many issues finding women who would sleep with him.

            1. Yeah, I strongly suspect that it is a combination of the two.

              Bill Burr does a bit about men not generally being ready for fame. I think this is the case here. After the 50th bimbo this week throws herself at you I could see how strong women with potential and the ability to say, “No.” would start to hold a special appeal.

        2. Some people get off on having absolute control over others. He’d have been better off going into politics like the rest of his co-fetishists.

          1. Short of being with another guy or an animal, I can’t think of anything less appealing than being with a passed out woman. What a strange kink.

        3. Screw that rotten old bastard. Guys like him make the rest of us look bad. I hope it hurts when bubba slips it to him.

      2. Your reference game is on point. I’m jelly-o.

      3. They’re pudding him in prison. 🙁

        1. He’s rich. Cosby will be just fine if he goes to prison.

          He’s 80 years old. He will probably file and appeal and then off himself. His convictions will then be thrown out because he died while his conviction was on appeal.

    1. You people are shameless with your off topic posts.

  5. You know who else’s massive public projects were overbudget and did not make the due date?

    1. Whoever it was, it wasn’t someone who made the trains run on time.

  6. How did Britches get stuck on he transportation beat? That is the least sexy beat, Britches. Oh, nm.

    1. Because he loves calling out shit. And that’s all he does. Christian articles are currently, basically, “Look at these retards, point and laugh!”

      1. How come he hasn’t done one on Reason’s comments section?

        Also I thought you quit after you got sick of me being future Tony with a different name.

        1. Mr. Sarwark the account off to one of his people. I will be making jokes people love from now on.

  7. This added work supposedly will not affect the projected 2020 completion date.

    The actual completion date, however, will move a little bit to the right.

    1. AGAIN!?!?

      1. I wanted to be the first shameless OT poster, but nooooo. I can’t even be cool enough to be the biggest douche.

        1. I can’t even be cool enough to be the biggest douche.

          Apparently, you’ve gotta get up pretty early in the morning to come in first in the ‘biggest douche’ contest around these parts.

      2. Isn’t that double jeopardy?

        1. Technically its not because the other jury was deadlocked but if you think about it was.

          You have the presumption of innocence beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, unless a jury unanimously finds you guilty of a crime, you’re innocent.

          The other jury failed to find him guilty after deliberating a period of time. The judge dismissed the case and the prosecution got a second crack at trying to convict him. Sounds like double jeopardy to me.

          Using other “rapes” where he has never been convicted of anything before is also shady court action.

          The criminal court system is fucked and most people don’t know unless they experience it. Then you get forced into a plea and now nobody listens to you because you’re a criminal. Its genius government tyranny actually.

  8. “We are confident at this point that the mitigations are solutions that will result in not just a safe system, but one that will last 100 years,”

    You know who else developed solutions designed to last for at least 100 years…

    1. The person who built my solidly lower middle-class house in 1927?

    2. No, no. It was supposed to be 1,000 years.

      1. That is how long it will take to pay off the debt.

        1. Pfft. You forget about the trillion dollar coin. Problem solved.

    3. Saddam Hussein?

  9. Washington, D.C.’s overdue, overbudget Silver Line Metro route extension has hit another snag: Some 1,700 concrete panels laid on the $2.8 billion project are defective.

    Proudly made in America.

  10. “I would say that everyone’s got a heightened awareness of quality on the project,” Charles Stark, the head of MWAA’s Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, [said.] It wasn’t until after installation that quality-control personnel spotted the issues during subsequent inspections. Stark said the issue should have been identified before the panels were installed.

    He also noted that the Metro will be spending an additional $50M on meta-quality-control-personnel, who will inspect the quality-control personnel to ensure this never happens again.

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