Concerns around the construction of train tracks for the second phase of the $5.8 billion Silver Line extension project, according to The Washington Post, has led Metro officials to halt train testing for the new segment. Capital Rail Constructors (CRC), a joint venture between Clark Construction Group and Kiewit Infrastructure, is the general contractor for the second phase.
The request to do no more testing until additional inspections could be done came early the week of Sept. 16, Marcia McAllister, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), told Construction Dive. "The Airports Authority continues to work with WMATA/Metro (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) and project contractors to resolve outstanding issues. It is way too early for us to know if there will be construction impacts. We have a goal of transferring the project to WMATA in time for a mid-summer  opening, but WMATA will set the date for opening," McAllister said. Neither WMATA nor CRC responded to Construction Dive's request for comments.
The decision to halt testing comes after increasing pressure on CRC from Metro to resolve construction issues that have contributed to a year's delay to the original schedule, according to The Post. The airport authority's board has reportedly taken a more conciliatory approach to the extension's problems and has created tension between the two agencies.
Previous progress reports for this phase of the Silver Line have indicated that the project is already over budget, but, according to The Post, the Airports Authority project staff, it is not, they have not yet calculated the full cost of delays or five years' worth of change orders for the 23-mile route.
During the last few years, CRC has found itself grappling with more than its fair share of concrete issues on the Silver Line project. First, the general contractor discovered that more than 1,700 defective concrete panels had been included in the construction of new stations. After a full investigation, authorities determined that a former employee of panel manufacturer and subcontractor Universal Concrete Products had falsified project reports in order to make it seem that the panels were in compliance with the job's product specifications.
Further inspection of the panels revealed that they don't present a safety issue, but the Silver Line will incur extra maintenance costs for special coating treatment that will prevent future cracking and water seepage.
Then, CRC found that 400 concrete rail ties, manufactured by Rocla Concrete Tie Inc., were one-half-inch higher in the middle than on the sides, meaning that tracks could tilt outwards. Rocla maintains that it manufactured the ties according to specification. There is no indication that the ties are related to the Metro's imminent inspections of the Silver Line. The most recent reports had Metro and Rocla working on a solution to the tie issue together.
Meanwhile, the most recent concrete issue along the Silver Line was the discovery that the concrete pedestals supporting one of the project's new stations were cracking due to improper reinforcement during construction.