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Metro IG opens Silver Line construction review

September 20, 2018

Metro’s Office of Inspector General will be keeping a close eye on the construction on the Silver Line, per an announcement Tuesday.

“We are initiating this review to ensure that WMATA and by extension, its funding jurisdictions and the region’s taxpayers can be confident that they will be receiving a quality project that is safe and reliable for rail operations,” Inspector General Geoffrey Cherrington said, adding he also wanted to learn “what, if any, long-term expense risks are out there” to fix mistakes.

The announcement comes a day after a news report from NBC 4 which found that one of the project’s subcontractors, Universal Concrete Products, was still working on the $5.8 billion dollar project after ruining 65 concrete panels and damaging 1,750 more by using the wrong cement mix.

The company’s now-former quality control supervisor Andrew Nolan pled guilty in federal court last month to falsifying his data about the mix, and instructing others to do the same.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel commented to The Washington Times in an email, writing, “Metro welcomes the OIG’s review, and the General Manager shares the OIG’s interest in ensuring that the Silver Line contractor meets their obligations and delivers to Metro a finished project that is safe, reliable and maintainable.”

Universal Concrete Product’s faulty cement mix allows too much air and water to seep into the concrete structures, exposing them to cracking over time. Some pieces were salvageable as long as workers coat them with a protective sealant every 10 years, officials previously told The Times.

In his announcement Wednesday, Mr. Cherrington also wrote his office’s review would “supercede” the one Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld ordered in May through an independent investigator. A spokesperson for the transit agency could not be immediately reached for comment on whether Metro would end its investigation, or continue simultaneously with the OIG’s work.

The 11.4-mile-long project began in 2014 aims to build six stations to link the Wiehle-Reston Silver Line station to Ashburn, Virginia, and include Dulles International Airport along the way.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is in charge of the project, and its chief contractor is Capital Rail Constructors, who subcontracted some of the work to Potomac Construction and Universal Concrete Products. MWAA will transfer control over to Metro once the rails are operational.

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