Silver Spring transit center to arrive in 2008
Nov. 10, 2004
Meredith Hooker
Staff Writer

Officials to break ground on facility in 2006

Silver Spring officials and residents see a bright future for the Silver Spring Transit Center in 2008.

The transit center is expected to open its doors in 2008, bringing together all forms of transportation at the Silver Spring Metro station at Colesville Road and Wayne Avenue.

The transit center, which wears a $200 million-plus price tag, will include office, hotel, residential and retail space built above and around a transit hub. The transit hub will bring together Metro trains, MARC trains and buses, as well as whatever form the Bi-County Transitway takes.

The project also will accommodate hiker-biker trails -- three go through downtown Silver Spring -- and pedestrian systems, said Bruce Johnston, chief of the capital development division of the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation, at a Thursday night meeting.

Officials hope to break ground in the spring of 2006. And as downtown Silver Spring continues to redevelop, officials believe the center will serve an important purpose.

"All of this is going to create an origin and destination for people to use mass transit," said Jerry Jannetti of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a planning, engineering and construction management firm.

The transit center is a public/private development by the Maryland Department of Transportation, Maryland Transit Authority, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Montgomery County and Foulger-Pratt Company.

The transit hub itself will have 34 to 38 bus stalls to accommodate Metro, Ride On and inter-city buses, Jannetti said. There will be taxi platforms and transit-oriented retail, as well as a bike facility. The transit hub will be stacked, with buses coming in on different levels.

Some residents were concerned about the lighting and ventilation where travelers would wait for a bus or train.

"Will it be a New York kind of experience or is it going to be a European experience?" asked Silver Spring resident Harry Sanders.

The area will be open, with lots of ventilation, and there will be opportunities to make sure there's natural light on each level, said David Esch, an associate partner with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Partnership, a Washington, D.C.,-based architecture and planning firm working on the project.

"We're looking at what we shouldn't be doing," Esch said.

Other Silver Spring residents, like Webb Smedley, wondered how the Bi-County Transitway would be incorporated into the transit center.

"Now, I'm a supporter of the Purple Line," he said, using the old name for the proposed light rail. "How would the different options for the Purple Line be accommodated?"

The site where the transit center will be built can accommodate several different alignments, modes of transportation and elevations for the Bi-County Transitway, Esch said, and a space will be left for that mode of transportation.

"We are absolutely sure we can get the Bi-County Transitway through in this area in whatever mode it comes through in," he said.