February 28, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 28, 2014

Chester awarded $450K in state capital improvement funds

CHESTER >> The town is among six municipalities statewide to receive a grant for capital improvement projects, part of more than $2.4 million awarded during the first round of 2014 Small Town Economic Assistance Program. The town will use the $450,000 grant toward a larger Chester Center Village revitalization project which includes a bridge replacement in 2016. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced today the grants, administered by the Office of Policy and Management, will also go to Avon, Farmington, Milford, New Milford and Sprague. STEAP monies provides funding for local capital improvement projects that support economic development, encourage community conservation and improve the quality of life for residents, according to a press release. “Over the last three years, we have worked with our partners in towns across the state to identify and invest in important capital projects that are growing jobs and local economies, strengthening local infrastructure and encouraging business growth,” Malloy said. “STEAP has allowed us to get money directly to municipalities to complete projects that are benefiting residents now and helping small towns maintain the unique qualities that are a large part of what makes Connecticut such a great place to live, work and visit.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

A bridge to nowhere in Old Mystic

Mystic - The historic flood of March 2010 forced the closure of a small bridge on North Stonington Road in Old Mystic, cutting off one of the access roads to the Old Mystic Fire Department. Four years later, the 80-year-old span remains closed despite repeated warnings by Fire Chief Ken Richards, who said the detour his trucks have to use poses a safety hazard to them and to other motorists. He said he has repeatedly asked Groton and Stonington officials to fix the bridge; since the closure, he said, his trucks have been involved in 10 near-accidents at the intersection of Route 27 and Main Street next to the Old Mystic General Store. "To me, it looks like they are dragging their feet hoping everyone will forget about it," he said this week. "I still don't have a date when it is going to get fixed." But Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger said Thursday that efforts have continued since 2010 to find a way to fix the bridge, which is located in both Groton and Stonington. He said several issues have contributed to the four-year delay in fixing the span. When the contractor for the project began work on the repairs in 2011, it discovered the design was flawed. A new deck was likely needed because the concrete had deteriorated, revealing the stream below. That work had not been part of the design. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Malloy: Sprague awarded $500K grant for PautipaugHill Rd reconstruction

HARTFORD – Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday the first round of 2014 Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grants, a total of more than $2.4 million, will be awarded to Avon, Chester, Farmington, Milford, New Milford and Sprague, according to a news release from the state. Sprague was awarded $500,000 for reconstruction and improvement of drainage on Pautipaug Hill Road, which is phase one of a two phase project.Pautipaug Hill Road has the largest concentration of residents than any other road in Sprague and is the access road to the recently reopened Pautipaug Hill Country Club.The project will address the deterioration of the road – exacerbated by the flood in March 2010 - along with insufficient drainage capacity. Construction on phase one of the project would conclude in the summer of 2014."This is a well needed infrastructure improvement that with a town match will allow us to provide drainage and road base improvements on a major road in the town of Sprague," said State Senator Cathy Osten. "The Town is thrilled to partner with the State on infrastructure that will provide benefit to residents and commercial interests." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

AGC: Obama's Transportation Proposal Should Further Transit Bill Debate

The chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, Stephen E. Sandherr, issued the following statement in response to President Obama's transportation announcement:
"It is encouraging to see President Obama pushing for a long-term bill to fund desperately needed highway and transit investments. We look forward to reviewing details about the measure, which recognizes the federal transportation funding shortfalls that threaten to curtail investments in highway and transit projects as early as this summer. The president clearly understands that any new transportation bill must include new sources of revenue to meet the needs of our aging transportation system. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

ARTBA to CONEXPO Attendees: Tell Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund

With federal highway and bridge funding to the states in jeopardy later this year, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) is using the March 4-8 CONEXPO-CON/AGG trade show in Las Vegas—one of the largest gatherings of U.S. transportation design and construction professionals in the world—to tell members of Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). On average, 52 percent of the funding for state and local road and bridge work—the largest market sector—comes from the federal program that is supported by the HTF. Without action by Congress and the President before October 1, that funding will be gone for new projects in FY 2015.
In a short "call-to-action" video sent to 125,000 CONEXPO attendees, ARTBA President Pete Ruane urged industry professionals to deliver this simple message to their elected leaders: "Congressman...Senator...you represent me and my family in Congress. And my job depends on Congress fixing the Highway Trust Fund before October 1. Please do your job and make sure that happens." Along with the video, ARTBA will be delivering its message at the show via tens of thousands of flyers, onsite promotional banners, and earned media. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

February 27, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 27, 2014

Hawleyville sewer project approved

NEWTOWN -- A standing-room-only crowd in the Municipal Center chambers Wednesday night voted to approve a $2.8 million bond issue to design, construct and install sewers in the Hawleyville commercial district on Route 6 and Route 25. After 90 minutes of questions and debate, the audience voted 81-11 to approve the project that is not expected to cost taxpayers any money. The cost is to be borne by the commercial property owners who will benefit from the sewers. While the majority favored the potential economic development benefits of the sewer project, which is likely to begin in the summer, there were those who suggested a tax break to property owners from additional development might not be realized. At least one resident said she would prefer to see the property remain open space, and still another questioned whether the project would bring additional traffic to the area. Resident Bill Stevens said he objects because there is no guarantee the commercial development town leaders project will happen. He also said there was no pledge that tax revenues generated from those developments will occur, nor is there a pledge by town officials that additional revenues will be used to lower residents' tax bills. Resident Kevin Fitzgerald concurred, stating this project seems another example of building with the expectation that development will follow, with no such guarantee. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Shares od Caterpillar Inc. and Manitowoc hit 52 week high

Construction equipment stocks are on a roll. Caterpillar hit its 52-week high on Monday and Manitowoc shares zoomed to levels not seen in nearly five years. There were no company-specific announcements or any major economic news; the excitement actually spilled over from last week after Deutsche Bank turned bullish on both stocks and sent them soaring. But wait, it's a lot more than an analyst upgrade. Good news seems to be pouring in from several sides for Caterpillar and Manitowoc, and investors just can't wait to get a piece of the action. But is the momentum here to stay, or will the two stocks give it all up before it is fully realized? A look at the factors that are bidding the shares up may give you an answer.
On solid ground
The recent uptick in construction activity in the U.S., especially nonresidential construction, is the biggest factor that's fueling optimism in both Caterpillar and Manitowoc. Caterpillar gets about a third of its revenue, and Manitowoc more than half its sales, from that region.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Officials break ground on CCSU's new $82M dorm

NEW BRITAIN — On Wednesday, Central Connecticut State University did something it hadn’t done in more than a decade. It broke ground on a new residence hall.
“This residence hall has been a long time coming,” CCSU President Jack Miller said as university administrators and local and state officials prepared to wield ceremonial shovels. “It’s been a long time since we’ve built a new residence hall and it’s taken a lot of planning and a lot of work to get us
here.” The residence hall will offer 150 suite-style rooms, each with a living room and bathroom to be shared by four students. Each floor will feature group study rooms and alcoves for one-on-one studying and socializing. Plans call for a computer laboratory, game room and large living room to be situated on the first floor, which will also house the university’s Residence Life administrative offices and campus-wide meeting space. The new eight-story building will span 220,000 square feet and will be located at the corner of Harold Lewis Drive and Ella Grasso Boulevard. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Waterford High renovations near completion

Renovations and additions to Waterford High School should be completed or scheduled for completion by April 30, when Waterford school district's contract with O&G Industries for construction management ends. The district anticipates project costs will ring in below the $68 million in funds authorized by voters for the construction. Unused funds now total roughly $220,000 and may increase depending on the outcome of certain predicted expenditures. The revamped, technology-laden high school opened its doors in April. Alan Wilensky, chairman of the School Building Committee overseeing project spending, said district capital projects usually come in under budget by design. He said the high school project is no different. "We continue to look at the needs of the building and the budget," he said. O&G Project Manager Gus Kotait said at the committee meeting Tuesday that the project was 94 percent complete. When the O&G contract ends, buildings and grounds staff will take over remaining tasks. Recent expenditures have been limited to the finer, less expensive points of construction. These costs include items such as repairs to water lines damaged during building construction and adding a third camera to the auditorium. Tuesday, the committee consented to $20,000 in item costs, a sharp drop compared to the more than $200,000 in changes approved at a meeting in July. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Boardwalk Construction to start soon

Hopes are to break ground on the 107-foot-long boardwalk and overlook platform at Guilford's Chittenden Park by the beginning of March. "The bids for the project were opened two weeks ago. Right now we are just reviewing the bids and awaiting final approval from the Board of Selectmen," explained Park & Recreation Director Rick Maynard. Construction work on the project just off of Seaside Avenue has to begin by March due to the nesting schedule of coastal birds in the area, per the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. The boardwalk, which will replace the makeshift path that currently leads visitors from the park area to the dunes and into the trail, will consist of a walkway, as well as a platform area, complete with benches to enjoy the beautiful views of Long Island Sound. "It's a great spot," explained Maynard. "This area is a big deal-it is the New England Trail's southern gateway-and we have wanted to construct a boardwalk across the marsh for a long time. This will be a much better solution for access to the area." In addition to the boardwalk, students in shop class at Guilford High School will build an informational kiosk for highlighting the trails and other pertinent information about the wetlands in the area. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Obama seeking $300B for roads, railways

 ST. PAUL, Minn. — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he will ask Congress for $300 billion to update aging roads and railways, arguing that the taxpayer investment is a worthy one that will pay dividends by attracting businesses and helping put people to work.Obama announced his plan at the Union Depot rail and bus station after touring a light rail maintenance facility. Funding for surface transportation programs expires later this year, and the White House says 700,000 jobs could be at risk unless Congress renews them."At a time when companies are saying they intend to hire more people this year, we need to make that decision easier for them," Obama said, by rebuilding aging transportation systems, power grids, communications networks and other projects that ease commerce."The bottom line is there's work to be done, workers ready to do it," he said, adding that one of Congress' major responsibilities is to help states and cities pay for such projects.Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx warned Wednesday of a "transportation cliff" coming in August or September when the Highway Trust Fund, which finances federal highway and transit projects, is forecast to go broke. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING 

Newington takes first step torward redeveloping National Welding Site

 NEWINGTON -- The town council voted 6-3 Tuesday to formally accept the state's offer of $2 million to demolish and clean up the National Welding site, the first step toward redeveloping the long-derelict property. The council's three Republicans voted no because of what they said was vague language in the agreement. They expressed concerns that the state could exploit the language to compel certain uses, such as affordable housing. "I think everyone at this table wants to see those buildings come down and something there that will increase the grand list and bring people into Newington for the right reasons," GOP Councilman Daniel Dinunzio said. "There are parts of it that are open to interpretation." "This does continue to be a dubious proposition at this time," Majority Leader David Nagel added. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Tax Breaks to anchor United Technologies in state

EAST HARTFORD — Connecticut and United Technologies Corp., the state's largest private employer, announced an agreement Wednesday that would anchor the manufacturing giant in the state with up to $400 million in tax breaks. The deal, which needs legislative approval, opens up more research and development tax credits to the company in exchange for continued research and development spending and half a billion dollars in new facilities, including a new global headquarters for Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford. Much of the deal is subject to the company's creating hundreds of jobs, paying certain wages, and investing in research ventures in Connecticut, where United Technologies employs 22,200 "What we are doing today is laying the foundation for the future, a long-term foundation with respect to the relationship between the state of Connecticut with its largest employer, a future where Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and other United Technologies companies continue to call Connecticut home," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said to employees packed in a Pratt & Whitney hangar scattered with aircraft engines. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

February 26, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 26, 2014

Chesire PZC OK's site plan for outlets

CHESHIRE — A sprawling north end outlet center has been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission but the plans still have to go before other local land use boards. Town Planner William S. Voelker said Tuesday that the developer, WS Development, will also have to get state and federal permits as well as approvals from the local building department and fire marshal. Construction of a 147-unit residential complex, a hotel, a health center, and recreational areas is also planned for the 111 acres off Exit 3 of Interstate 691. The Outlets at Cheshire is expected to have about 60 stores and the entire project is anticipated to cost more than $100 million. “We’re very excited to get to this point. It’s a major milestone for us,” said Andrew Manning, project manager for WS Development. “And we’re looking forward to the next steps.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

New PD clears another hurdle

OLD SAYBROOK - Officials are hoping that Old Saybrook will have a totally different look a year or so from now with both a new police station and an adjacent recreation complex sprucing up the area. Last week the Zoning Board of Appeals approved variances as one of the last steps necessary to pave the way for the new cop shop. First Selectman Carl Fortuna said the town has moved step by step over the past few years to work toward "not just having a brand new police station, but to make sure the adjacent property [the old police station] is an attractive green space area that can be used for passive recreation." Both the old and new police station sites need local and state approvals to move the project forwarded, and Fortuna said everything is on track. The town is also hopeful of receiving a $500,000 grant from the state, the first selectman said, to develop the recreation site, which Fortuna said would have a "park-like feel." The approvals will allow the old phone company site's municipal use for a police station within a residential zone and permit emergency access by police vehicles between the new police site at the 36 Lynde Street site and Main Street through town-owned land at the current, unoccupied, police station 225 Main Street. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Water repairs bring geyser of work for construction trades

 Don Shubert sees a flood coming. Not the biblical kind, but one that Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, says will be eagerly embraced by Connecticut and other U.S. waterworks engineers, designers, contractors and subcontractors. Shubert says that following a "nice run of work'' after Washington enacted 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which shunted billions nationwide to so-called shovel-ready infrastructure and other building projects, by 2012 there were no big waterworks projects. However, there was, he said, plenty of drinking water and sewage pipe laid, spearheaded by The Metropolitan District's ongoing $2.1 billion stormwater/sewage line separation project for its eight member towns — Hartford, East and West Hartford, Bloomfield, Glastonbury, Newington, Rocky Hill and Windsor.
Now, five or six "pretty big projects'' are preparing to get out the door, he said. Manchester, Bridgeport, Brooklyn, New Haven, Norwich and Putnam are among communities with waterworks projects totaling at least $140 million underway or on drawing boards, officials said.
Recently, state lawmakers approved $997 million in funding over the next two years for sewage-plant upgrades among Connecticut communities that need them.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Revere Mass approves Mohegan Sun $1.3B plan for casino

REVERE, Mass. — Mohegan Sun's plans for a $1.3 billion casino at Suffolk Downs racetrack passed by a wide margin Tuesday, capturing 63 percent of a citywide vote. With all 21 precincts reporting, the unofficial tally was 7,169 in favor, 4,172 against. Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess said the vote said a lot about the people of Revere. They turned out in greater numbers and offered a wider margin of support despite better organized opposition now than before a similar vote in November. "People in Revere really have spoken here. They really let their voice be heard," Etess said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

State orders subcontractors at UCONN Basketball facility site off job

The state Department of Labor has ordered two subcontractors helping build UConn's $32 million basketball practice facility off the job, alleging that they used undocumented workers and paid them in cash to avoid taxes. State investigators made a surprise visit Sunday to the construction site on the Storrs campus and interviewed more than 40 workers from Intext Building Systems Inc. of Glastonbury and J & V Construction LLC of East Hartford, authorities said. Gary Pechie, the labor department's director of wage and workplace standards, said investigators found that many of the workers were undocumented; that they were being paid in cash to avoid state taxes, insurance costs and workers' compensation; and that they were being paid less than the law allows.
The labor department does not have jurisdiction over undocumented workers but has referred the matter to federal officials, Pechie said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

DOT wants residents ideas for CT's Transportation System

What do Connecticut residents want their highways, airports, ferry lines and railroads to look like in the future? State transportation planners are visiting Bridgeport, New London and Hartford this week to get public opinion for the TransformCT long-range strategic guide.
The ambitious project is intended to create a 50-year plan to guide the Department of Transportation and other agencies as they make choices about what kinds of projects the state should build. Just as importantly, the final version will reflect — directly or indirectly — what sorts of projects that state shouldn't pursue or simply can't afford.  Advocacy groups for transit commuters, bicyclists, pedestrians and others have already started putting forward their ideas, and the DOT is eager to get more from them. It's also making a pitch to hear from ordinary motorists — the bulk of state residents but a group that's mostly unorganized. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Work to spruce up West Main St in Ansonia set to begin this spring

ANSONIA >> The start of a project to improve West Main Street is just around the corner.
Mayor David S. Cassetti said Tuesday the West Main Street Streetscape Improvements Project will start sometime in April. Completion deadline is July 29. The city received 11 bids on the project, all of which were within the financing allotment from this project, grants writer Sheila O’Malley said.
The work includes 600 feet of roadway.  The city awarded the project to EDO Construction Co. of Milford, which was third-lowest bidder at about $240,000. Cassetti said the bids ranged from $226,000 to $342,000, but the lowest and second-lowest bidders submitted “incomplete packages.”
Cassetti said the contracting company “is no relation” to 6th Ward Alderman Matthew Edo.O’Malley said that “Ansonia was fortunate enough to get a grant for $430,000” for the improvements during the previous administration.  The grant is from the state Office of Policy and Management Main Street Investment Fund. O’Malley said city officials will hold a pre-construction meeting with the contractor to discuss a work schedule. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

CT DOT, Northern Construction join to replace heavily traveled spans

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) and Northern Construction Service LLC are combining to replace two heavily traveled highway bridges that are central arteries for all state commuters in two directions. They expect to do it in less than eight months. The physical work to replace the Interstate 84 east and west bridges over Marion Avenue in the town of Southington began the first week in November. Northern Construction in Palmer, Mass. is the general contractor under the auspices of ConnDOT for the $6 million project. It was awarded to Northern on June 7 with a scheduled completion date of July 2014. The brisk November to July timetable is possible because the state is utilizing accelerated bridge construction methods that employ innovative, time saving techniques and minimize construction time and the disturbance to the traveling public. Coupled with incentive bonuses (and late penalties) to meet state highway deadlines, there is even more encouragement to stay on schedule.  The department's office of construction is administering the project; District 1 Rocky Hill, Conn. It consists of the superstructure replacement of Bridge Nos. 01235 and 01236, which carry Interstate 84 through Southington.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

February 25, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 25, 2014

Fairfield Hills eyed for possible arena

NEWTOWN -- The winter Olympics may not have inspired the idea, but two local hockey coaches pitching the prospect of a community ice arena on the Fairfield Hills campus were encouraged with the enthusiastic response they received last night. The Fairfield Hills Authority received last-minute notice that members of the Newtown Ice Arena committee wanted to present their proposal to build what they anticipate as a $10 million facility to accommodate youth and adult ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, wheelchair sled hockey and a curling rink. It would build the arena where Norwalk Hall now stands.  First Selectman Pat Llodra and the Parks and Recreation Commission were presented the proposal in October 2011 and Newtown Youth Academy founder Peter D'Amico and Claris Construction were consulted over the course of the past year.  In January, the committee met with land-use officials, and last week members met with three Northeast arena consultants about the feasibility of building on the Fairfield Hills campus location.  All seemed to favor the idea, the committee members said. "Frankly, it's awesome," Thomas Connors, authority chairman, said about the proposal for a nonrofit-run complex of about 85,000 square feet, able to accommodate all types of year-round recreational ice sports. "We would love to see it happen. I'm a horrific skater, but I'd like to curl -- to be the broom guy," he added. Connors and other authority members listened to Paul Esposito, Newtown High School hockey coach, and fellow youth hockey coach and adult player Kris Kenny highlight their ideas and proposal . CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE READING

Sewer vote slated in Newtown on Wednesday

The special town meeting to allow taxpayers to vote on a proposal to build and install sewers to promote economic development on the last large undecommercial properties in the Hawleyville district is scheduled for Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The $2.8 million project will allow for the design and construction of the project and will be part of a long-term bonding package. Benefit assessments will be charged to the eventual users who hook into the system.
For more information about the project, visit Town Hall where all the documents are on file.

Roche eyes another shot at 31st

BRISTOL — Two years after nearly unseating a state senator, Dave Roche is ready to run for office again.“Here we go again,” said Roche, 52, longtime business manager for the sheet metal workers union and president of the Connecticut Building Trades and Construction Council. He is also the executive secretary of the Connecticut AFL-CIO. This time around, though, the Bristol Democrat will be vying for an open seat in the 31st District. Two-term state Sen. Jason Welch, a Bristol Republican, is stepping down this year so he can devote more attention to his legal career and his family. Welch won the office in 2010 by defeating Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat who held the seat for 18 years. One Republican has formally entered the race to succeed Welch so far. Bristol City Councilor Henri Martin filed paperwork with the state several weeks ago. He said he’ll make a public announcement soon. Roche said he’s remained involved in politics since his unsuccessful run in 2012 and is sure “it’s going be a different outcome” come Election Day. “I’m going to get out there and win this thing,” he said. He said he wants “to get in there and try to make the changes” that can stop the shrinking of the middle class. “We’ve got to make sure we start turning this thing around,” Roche told the Democratic Town Committee Monday. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE READING

NCDC report: Hotel development would be big boost for city

NORWICH — A fully renovated 113-room Hampton Inn built along Norwich's southern gateway would significantly modernize the city's hotel inventory and boost the value of surrounding properties by taking away a blighted structure, a newly issued development plan says. Last week, Norwich Community Development Corp. released a 143-page report detailing the overall impacts the proposed $13 million hotel at 154 Salem Turnpike could have on the region's economy. The analysis was requested in January by aldermen as they grapple with the possibility of relinquishing $2.8 million worth of property taxes over the next 20 years to close a funding gap in North Carolina-based Winston Hospitality's construction plan. With the tax incremental financing, or TIF, plan in place, Norwich would receive $1.09 million in tax revenue over the 20-year cycle, compared to the $3.83 million it would get should the hotel be built only using private investment. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE READING

Manchester School Repair List Totals $34.7M

MANCHESTER — The cost of needed repairs and improvements to school buildings totals about $34.7 million, according to a report presented to the school board Monday night.
The list of repairs prepared by Facilities Manager Richard Ziegler was divided into first, second and third priorities. The most pressing jobs will cost about $19.7 million; items on the second and third tiers total about $15 million. But the list is likely to change as the school board considers a districtwide plan that could result in the "like new" renovation and expansion of two elementary schools and the closing of one or two other schools. The board is scheduled to make a final decision on the plan by April 7. Many of the top priority items are recommended school security improvements, which Ziegler said total about $5 million. Items include surveillance cameras, door and hardware modifications and exterior lighting upgrades. At Illing Middle School alone, door and hardware modifications will cost $340,000, Ziegler said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE READING

Storrs Center Ready For Next Phaze

STORRS — Buoyed by their successes so far, the developers of the Storrs Center at the University of Connecticut will begin construction this summer on the next major phase of the $120 million project, adding 200 apartments, a daycare center and more storefront space.
And marketing will begin this spring on the last phase of townhomes and condominiums, with construction possible next year. "We're running to the finish now," Howard Kaufman, managing member of the Tuxedo Park, N.Y.-based LeylandAlliance, the project's master developer, said Monday. "We're going to finish this."
Similar plans dating to as early as the 1950s and '60s collapsed in the face of recession, lack of financing or construction restraints. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE READING
WINSTED -- The Holabird Avenue bridge is closed, but its condition is not as bad as it looks.
 Town Manager Dale L. Martin said Monday he ordered the pothole-riddled bridge closed late Sunday afternoon because of the number of complaints he was hearing about it. He said he was receiving emails and reading comments on Facebook that people feared the bridge would collapse.
Martin reiterated what engineers and the state Department of Transportation have been saying for months -- the surface is ugly and tough to drive on, but the structure beneath it remains in decent shape. "You're not going to drive 40 mph over it," Martin said. Martin said the pavement all over town has taken a beating this winter. The bridge surface was not good before winter started, but now some of the potholes are so deep the rebar is showing. He said it is still too cold to patch the potholes. That will have to wait until spring. Instead, engineers are expected to inspect the bridge today to see if there are some quick, low-cost temporary alternatives the town can implement, like placing large slabs of steel over the deck so the bridge can be reopened. Meanwhile, the long-term plan to reconstruct the bridge in either 2015 or 2016 is still in the works. State officials announced a month ago the state will cover the entire estimated $3.7 million cost to rebuild the bridge. That announcement came just a month after the State Bond Commission approved $2.4 million for the project. The town was expected to pay for the rest, but because of the town's financial difficulties, lawmakers such as Rep. Jay M. Case, R- Winsted; Sen. Clark J. Chapin, R-New Milford; and Rep. David A. Scribner, R-Brookfield, persuaded state transportation officials to cover the remaining costs. The project has been delayed for at least 10 years because of inadequate funding. The bridge was built in 1955 over the Still River. Nearly 3,000 vehicles travel over it daily, according to the DOT. It is close to Northwest Connecticut Community College, one of the fire department's four companies, the Whiting Mills artists studios, the American Mural Project and many homes. The $3.7 million will be covered by a combination of state and federal money. The town is still responsible for the minimal design costs and specifications. The town set aside $110,000 in 2012-13 for the design.
DOT Project Manager Scott A. Roberts has said the project will need permits from a number of local, state and federal regulatory agencies, which may hinder the 2015 construction target.


February 24, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 24, 2014

Harding project still faces hurdles

If the Board of Education turns down the General Electric site off Boston Avenue for a new Harding High School, the city will lose grant money and pay more to start the project from scratch.
That warning from city officials was enough to win a unanimous site-plan nod last week from members of the city's School Building Committee. What remains is a Planning and Zoning Commission nod -- a meeting is scheduled on Tuesday -- and approval by the city school board.
Without school board approval, the project won't go forward, Scott Baillie, a project manager for O&G Industries, the city construction managers, told the building committee. Baillie and others also told the committee that a shovel must be in the ground by June 30 or state funding for the $78 million project will be lost. The state is picking up about 80 percent of the costs. Although the city has already received three extensions, Ruben Felipe, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, said he does not believe the city would get a fourth, based on newly raised concerns by a school board that is questioning the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which would decide if the property is safe enough for a school.

Depot Crossing developer brings broker aboard

BERLIN — Little by little, the pieces of the Depot Crossing project are coming together.
Goman+York Property Advisors has been enlisted by the project’s developer, CIL Development Inc., to provide brokerage services for the commercial space at the mixed-use 848 Farmington Ave. building. Tom York, a principal with Goman+York, said Depot Crossing will house prime space.
“With the benefits of the new construction, ample parking, excellent visibility plus the close proximity to the new train station and area amenities, Depot Crossing represents the finest office and retail space available in Berlin,” York said. Depot Crossing will consist of 16 apartments on the second and third floors and a 9,000-square-foot commercial condominium on the first. The property has sat unfinished for five years. Foreclosure brought construction of the 23,900-square-foot building to a halt shortly after work began in 2008. The town entered into an agreement to buy the property in February 2013. It was sold to CIL this month. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Bond helps Watertown catch up on road repairs

WATERTOWN — Following years of working with bare-bones maintenance budgets, Public Works Director Roy E. Cavanaugh said the proposed funding for next year includes all the work his crews can handle. Between the town manager's recommended $2.3 million budget for highways and the funds left from a $4 million bond for bridges, culverts, drainage and roads, Cavanaugh said his workers will be busy next year. He said, however, that road maintenance will become problematic again in 2015-16 if the budget is funded at the same level without the help of the bond, which will have been used up. "The bond has put the finger in the dike for a couple years," Cavanaugh said.
That is why Town Council member Thomas Winn, a Public Works Subcommittee member, is asking to add $50,000 to the budget to set up a road maintenance fund to bank for future repairs.
Cavanaugh said the maintenance fund is a good idea, but didn't know if the town could afford it.
"It's a balancing act between needs and the ability to pay," he said. The department has a similar fund for replacing construction equipment, which is funded at $75,000 per year, and a vehicle maintenance fund at $42,300. Cavanaugh said the department has 15 big trucks, each with a useful service life of 10 years. By sandblasting and repainting a truck about halfway through its life cycle, Cavanaugh said, he can extend the life of the truck by about three years. "Rust is the big enemy of the big trucks like that," he said. He estimates that the $6,000 the town spends per truck saves $12,000 to $18,000 per vehicle by extending its life 20 to 30 percent. In the 2014-15 proposed budget, Town Manager Charles A. Frigon recommended purchasing a new 2014 truck and a new 2014 H2 pickup truck, but passed on requests for a new loader and mini-excavator. Frigon also denied Cavanaugh's request for sidewalk projects on Green Street, Buckingham Street, Munson Street and Academy Hill Road.
Winn said he is OK with delaying sidewalk projects and equipment purchases, but will not negotiate on infrastructure, which he said is a safety issue. He said the town is paying for its neglect of roads in the past through the 2013 bond. He said he doesn't want another expensive bond in 10 years because the town neglected yearly maintenance. "The infrastructure of this town should not be something where we can balance our budget on. It's happened time and time again and we can't continue to do that," Winn said. Winn also said he would argue against a the removal of the Sylvan Lake Road drainage project and engineering for repairs to the Woolson Street bridge. The Woolson bridge is in the worst condition of five town bridges inspected by the State Department of Transportation, Cavanaugh said. He said it is the only one that hasn't been replaced in last 20 years.
"It's showing its age. We wanted to start addressing it, but I guess now it'll have to wait," he said.
 Another bridge project, the 161-year-old bridge on Skilton Road, is a go, with the town funding $150,000 of the $750,000 project. Frigon also took out Cavanaugh's $17,280 request for maintenance on Turkey Brook. In 2012 the town spent $136,000 for flood prevention and debris cleanup. If maintenance is deferred for too long, adjacent properties will be subject to flooding, which could cost more to clean up, Cavanaugh said. "It's a gradual building up thing then all of a sudden, whammo," he said. Cavanaugh said the $3.76 million public works budget, which includes a $99,000 increase in personnel, is responsible, fair and affordable. "It's a rival year so there's going to be sticker shock whatever happens," Cavanaugh said.

February 21, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 21, 2014

Stalled Depot Crossing gets a reboot

A Hartford nonprofit is breathing fresh life into a stalled commercial-office/housing development across from the Berlin Train Station, authorities say. Berlin Mayor Rachel Rochette and The Corporation for Independent Living announced that CIL's for-profit arm paid $500,000 for Depot Crossing's unfinished building and land at 848 Farmington Ave. CIL officials say work will soon start anew to complete Depot Crossing with a $3.34 million construction budget. The three-story, 23,986-square-foot building will have offices on the lower level, and housing above.
The purchase and construction is funded with a $1 million loan from the Connecticut Housing Investment Fund, to go with a $2.1 million first mortgage from United Bank of West Springfield, authorities said. The town also waived about $180,000 of back taxes on the property, CIL CEO Martin Legault said. "We can now look forward to the resumption of work to complete this prominent local project,'' Rochette said. "Depot Crossing will be Berlin's first new mixed use, transit-oriented development project being developed in conjunction with the upcoming expanded commuter rail service on the New Haven/Springfield line.'' The original developer started Depot Crossing in late 2008, but work stalled and lender New England Capital Group foreclosed in August 2012, authorities said. In February 2013, the Berlin Land Trust bought the property and deeded it to the town, officials said. A month later, CIL emerged as the preferred developer after the town put the project out to bid. Papers signed last July formalized that pact. CIL has since revised the original project's scope to include finishing the first floor space for commercial use and erecting 16 apartments on the upper two floors. In keeping with CIL's housing mission, four of them will be tagged "affordable" to qualified households, officials said. Goman + York Property Advisors in East Hartford has been hired to market the 9,000-square-foot ground-floor space earmarked as a commercial condominium.

Fire District OK's $3.5M Bank Loan for New Firehouse

ENFIELD — The Thompsonville Fire District has approved a $3.5 million bank loan for construction of the new firehouse.Commissioners Dominic Alaimo and Roger Alsbaugh voted Wednesday to approve a commitment letter from United Bank for up to a $3.5 million, 20-year loan at a fixed interest rate of 3.75 percent.Commissioner Bob Gillespie, who attended the meeting, did not vote. Alsbaugh said that the district's bond counsel had asked that Gillespie not vote. Gillespie's status on the board is in dispute."They needed legal assurance that they had some process they could lend a loan on," Alsbaugh said. "That process turned out to be something that did not allow Bob Gillespie to vote."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

February 20, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 20, 2014

Company looks for tax deal to finish hotel in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — Representatives from Winston Hospitality, Inc., came before the Town Council Tuesday night to propose an updated tax fixing agreement that they said would help the company finish construction of a partially built hotel on Route 68. It was a different proposal from what was presented to the Economic Development Commission on Dec. 9. While the goal of the project remains to build a Hilton Garden Inn at 1181 Barnes Road, in order to receive financing for the project the company is looking for a deal that will allow it to be taxed less by the town in the short term, said Bob Winston, who owns the Raleigh, N.C., based company. Winston purchased the hotel property through foreclosure proceedings in early 2013. Winston’s initial proposal to the Economic Development Commission asked for a seven-year fixed property valuation of $2.5 million, resulting in property tax payments of $45,325 annually subject to changes in the tax rate. But on Tuesday, Winston brought two new proposals to the table.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Coast Guard museum agreement signed

New London — The major players in the project to build a National Coast Guard Museum downtown said the new agreement they signed Wednesday should make it crystal clear that this museum will become a reality. Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said that when the site for the museum was announced in April, skeptics asked, "Is it actually going to happen?" "If today's ceremony speaks to anything, it says loudly and clearly this is happening," Finizio said. Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. said Coast Guard men and women have done great things for the country, and their story deserves to be told. "What better place than down by the water here in New London, Connecticut?" Papp, the commandant of the Coast Guard, said. "It will be done." In the ceremony at Union Station Wednesday, as trains rumbled by, Papp, Finizio, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and James Coleman, chairman of the National Coast Guard Museum Association Inc., signed a memorandum of agreement that outlines how the Coast Guard, city, state and museum association will cooperate and what their responsibilities will be. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

DOT: Busway on time and on budget

The CTfastrak construction is on schedule and within budget, and transit planners are looking to offer occasional special busway service for events at Rentschler Field and perhaps even the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, state Transportation Commissioner James Redeker told lawmakers Wednesday. "An awful lot of thinking and preparation is going on right now. It's unlike just putting a bus on a highway or a train on a track," Redeker said. "There's a very complex set of things to integrate." Contractors have put down a first layer of pavement on about 80 percent of the rapid-transit bus route from downtown Hartford to downtown New Britain, and stations along the way are being built, Redeker said. Construction should be finished in October, followed by driver training and extensive testing of the intersection signals, closed-circuit cameras, ticket dispensers, and digital signs at each platform announcing the arrival time of the next bus. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Wethersfield Council OK's $50M in contracts for troubled school renovation

WETHERSFIELD -- Town council Republicans reluctantly joined majority Democrats Tuesday in approving about $50 million of contracts for the reconstruction of Wethersfield High School.
GOP councilmen initially suggested waiting two weeks to see if the state would provide additional funding to cover $9 million to $10 million in cost overruns on the project. They also wanted more time to review the recommended bids. But construction officials warned that waiting would delay the work. That prompted Republicans to reverse course and vote to award the contracts.
"What we heard tonight is we can't (wait),"said GOP Councilman Stathis Manousos in explaining his change of heart. "It will affect the timing of the project. I really feel like we're boxed into a corner."
NEW HAVEN >> Continuum of Care, which already employs 650 people and plans to hire 300 more, pitched its plan Wednesday for an administrative headquarters that will be part of a mixed retail development on what is now just a parking lot in the middle of the Route 34 corridor.
The nonprofit, which provides services to some 1,500 persons with mental illness and development disabilities annually, is partnering with Centerplan Development Company on a $50 million, two-phase project, $40 million of which represents private investment.Erik Johnson, who heads up the Livable City Initiative in New Haven, said Continuum needed someplace to consolidate multiple offices into a 30,000-square-foot administrative headquarters, while Centerplan was looking to put up a 50,000-square-foot development. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING 

February 19, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 19, 2014

Keeping tabs on the New High School Construction

Nasty Nor'easter and all, construction work on the new Guilford High School keeps chugging along on target-and under budget. The Guilford High School Building Committee (GHSBC) has agreed to target the spending limit on the new high school project to $91.2 million, $1 million less than the referendum that was passed by the town majority, explained the committee's Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mary Beeman on the committee's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/guilfordhigh.
Some numbers: The building foundation, excavation, and backfill is 95 percent complete, and the expenditures are 12 percent finalized. The steel structure assembly is 60 percent complete, and the decking for the concrete floor is in progress. The steel framing is in place in the administration area and the performing arts classroom in area A of the structure, and the framing is currently underway in area C, which is the southern classroom wing. With so much progress taking place on the "bones" of the new high school, the GHSBC will soon review the mock up of three sample walls of color for the interior of the new building, getting ready to tackle the inside designs. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Report: Time right for reversing damage of I-84's viaduct

The aging, I-84 viaduct in Hartford tore apart neighborhoods when it was built in the 1960s and certainly has plenty of counterparts across the country. But a new listing by the Congress for the New Urbanism, a non-profit that promotes reducing the impact of highways that slice through cities, also places the Hartford viaduct among its top 10 picks for highways in the United States and Canada that have potential for reversing damage done to neighborhoods. The potential is rooted in on-going, active planning locally for alternatives and communities that are supportive of making a change, said Norman Garrick, a professor of transportation engineering at the University of Connecticut and and a CNU advisory board member. “These are projects that are not just theoretical, they have advocacy around them,” Garrick told me. Hartford’s I-84 viaduct has been on CNU’s biennial “Freeways Without Futures” report ever since 2010. The 2014 report also includes such cities as Buffalo, Detroit and Toronto. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Retailers signing on to Chesire outlet plan

CHESHIRE >> An executive with the Massachusetts-based company that is developing a 470,000-square-foot outlet center at the intersection of Route 10 and Interstate 691 said the firm is nearing a critical mass of signed leases with retailers needed to secure financing for the project. “We’re not there today, not yet, but we’re getting close,” Louis Masiello, vice president of development for W/S Development, said Tuesday. “We have some signed leases in hand already, but theses are companies that have not made their commitment to us public so I can’t share their names with you at this point.”
The signed leases from the retailers will be used to leverage the necessary financing for the actual construction of the project, Masiello said.
The retail portion of what is still ultimately envisioned as a mixed-use project is currently in its final stages before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission. If the PZC grants the retail portion of the project the approval it needs, there still are state approvals that must be granted, Masiello said.
“While it is still possible that some of our stores could open by the third quarter of 2015, it is by no means a guarantee,” he said. The project, which got its first PZC approval in 2008, was put on hold for several years after Connecticut and the nation sank into a recession later that year. Masiello acknowledged that there is always the possibility that another economic decline could force further delays on the project, but said that it require some significantly dire circumstances to occur.CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

 Is OSHA"S new silica law flawed?

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which represents 25 different construction trade associations, issued the following statement as it filed comments regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) proposed Crystalline Silica Rulemaking: “After an exhaustive analysis that involved hundreds of construction safety professionals, builders, construction managers and specialty trade contractors representing virtually every facet on the industry, it is our conclusion that the administration's proposed new silica rule is significantly flawed and will do little to improve workplace health or safety. Specifically, the proposed rule sets a silica exposure standard that cannot be accurately measured or protected against with existing equipment and includes a series of data errors that undermine many of the rule's basic assumptions. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING


February 18, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 18, 2014

Bridgeport needs new Harding

The students and parents of the East Side and East End communities deserve a replacement for Harding High School. For nearly two decades, Harding has been in major disrepair. All possibilities to repair and renovate the current building have been exhausted. There is no alternative to new construction. Two previous administrations have received grants from the State to build a replacement for Harding High School. Neither of these attempts came to fruition, and the grant money had to be returned to the State, due to the lack of a suitable location. In consultation with the Board of Education and the Superintendent's Office, my administration successfully applied for a third grant to bring about a much needed replacement for Harding. The best suited location for the replacement is on the former General Electric site on Boston Avenue and Bond Street. The school site is being remediated to residential standards -- the cleanest standards, with GE bearing the brunt of the cost. Once the site is remediated, GE will donate this land to the City. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Wallingford council come to hotel development plan

WALLINGFORD — A workshop meeting Wednesday will introduce town councilors to Bob Winston, owner of a partially built hotel on Route 68.  On Dec. 9, Winston presented plans to the Economic Development Commission to build a Hilton Garden Inn at 1181 Barnes Road. The presentation included a request for more tax relief. Winston, chief executive officer of the Raleigh, N.C. based Winston Hospitality, sent an email to Town Council leadership on Dec. 19 asking to come before the council to further discuss the project. The Town Council has yet to hear directly from Winston, with the Economic Development Commission handling negotiations thus far. The workshop will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Town Hall auditorium. Town councilors said Monday they are curious about the project’s cost. Winston’s proposal states that he would need to spend more than $15 million to complete the hotel. In his proposal, Winston said, construction was either expected to begin by late 2013, or delayed indefinitely. The partially built hotel came under Winston’s ownership through foreclosure in early 2013. Winston could not be reached for comment for this story.  CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Meriden officials consider way to secure old hospital

MERIDEN — After a tour through the former Cook Avenue hospital several weeks ago revealed numerous health and safety hazards, city officials drafted a list of measures to secure the building before the city solicits qualifications from companies interested in redeveloping the old hospital and other sites downtown. City councilors received a list of 17 items that were discussed at a Safety Committee meeting shortly after a tour with department heads and members of the City Council last month. Those attending the safety meeting included heads of police, fire, public works, code enforcement, building, and legal departments and City Manager Lawrence Kendzior.
According to an e-mail from Kendzior to members of the City Council, the city plans to install security lighting around the building’s perimeter, limit access to the parking garage — particularly stairwells — remove all vegetation and shrubbery to improve visibility, board up first floor windows, close off alleyways, secure doors and secure all potential points of entry from the roof, including hatches, vents, doors etc. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
New London - The City Council is expected to set in motion today the process of transferring a sliver of land along its waterfront to the Coast Guard to build an $80 million National Coast Guard Museum. In addition to selling about 10,000 square feet of land near Union Station and City Pier to the Coast Guard for $1, the city will sell roughly 6,100 square feet to Cross Sound Ferry for about $123,000. Cross Sound Ferry is expected to use the land to build a new ferry terminal. On Wednesday, Coast Guard, city and state officials will sign a "memorandum of agreement" during an 11 a.m. ceremony at Union Station in an effort to keep the Coast Guard museum project moving forward. The council is expected to set a public hearing date for 6:30 p.m. March 17 at City Hall. The council will also request that the Planning & Zoning Commission review the proposed sale of municipal property. Last April, city, state and Coast Guard officials announced plans to build the four-story, 54,000-square-foot national museum on the city's waterfront. Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr., who grew up in Norwich and graduated from Norwich Free Academy, has been advocating for a national museum for years. He will step down as commandant of the Coast Guard in late May and then retire. A Feb. 9 memo to the council lays out a timeline for the land transfer to ensure the project goes forward before Papp's retirement, according to Tammy Daugherty, director of the Office of Development and Planning.  CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Partners Winstanley, ABB closeing in on Great Pond's launch

Panning the wide expanse stretching beyond the intersection of Windsor's Great Pond and Day Hill roads, mind's-eye outlines of thousands of apartments, condos and townhomes, hundreds of single-family dwellings, and acres of offices, shops and open spaces almost spring to life.
Known as Great Pond Village, restoration of the 653-acre industrial brownfield is no pipe dream for long-time commercial-development partners Winstanley Enterprises LLC of Concord, Mass., and multi-billion-dollar Swiss engineering-automation-power services conglomerate Asea Brown Boveri, or ABB Group. ABB got title to the brownfield and nearby undeveloped acreage in its 1990 buyout of former Combustion Engineering. Three years after Great Pond was first announced and with all local zoning, wetlands and building approvals making it virtually "shovel ready,'' Windsor and the Hartford region may be closing in on the first turn of village dirt — perhaps as early as this summer.

February 17, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 17, 2014

Costco to anchor East Lyme complex

East Lyme - As the residential portion of the long-stalled Gateway Commons development moves forward, First Selectman Paul Formica has confirmed that the commercial anchor for the project will be a Costco wholesale retail store. Simon Konover Development Corp. and KGI Properties have planned for years to build a residential and retail development on about 200 acres of land near Interstate 95 Exits 73 and 74. The large-scale project was halted during the economic downturn but appears now to be moving forward. The developers recently began clearing land for 280 residential rental units near Exit 73 and will begin construction in earnest in the spring, said Newton Brainard, vice president of Simon Konover. The residential component calls for 10 buildings, each with 28 market-rate units, interspersed over 38 acres, he said. Construction is expected to take about a year and a half. "It will be a luxury, multi-family community," said Brainard, with studios, one- and two-bedroom units, a central clubhouse and a resort-style pool. The developers will also improve East Society Road, which will serve as the entrance for the residences, he said. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

NPU seeks Norwich residents interested in converting natural gas

Norwich - Norwich Public Utilities is planning its natural gas expansion for the 2014 construction season and is asking Norwich property owners interested in converting their homes to natural gas to contact NPU by April 15 to verify eligibility and guarantee a spot in the 2014 schedule.
For eligible customers, NPU will install a natural gas service line to the home at no charge. In addition, customers will receive an incentive up to $1,000 to offset the conversion costs. Customers looking to finance the conversion cost can take advantage of a "no-out-of-pocket" loan offered by the program's banking partners, Core Plus Federal Credit Union and Eastern Savings Bank.
NPU also offers rebates for the purchase and installation of high efficiency natural gas boilers, furnaces, and water heaters. Customers who already have natural gas service but do not currently use it for heating are also eligible for incentives and rebates if they convert to natural gas for home heating. For more information or to determine eligibility for natural gas, customers can call Katie Moors at (860) 823-4514. Information can also be found at www.EnergizeNorwich.com. The website includes dates and locations of community events where NPU staff and Energize Norwich partners, including bank representatives and participating contractors, will be available to answer questions.

Manchester has long list of construction projects for 2014

MANCHESTER — Major public construction projects this year will include road and sidewalk reconstruction, downtown parking lot improvements and installation of an arch connecting Center Springs Park to the Broad Street commercial district. Town Engineer Jeff LaMalva summarized the ongoing and new projects in a recent memo to General Manager Scott Shanley. The scheduled work includes:
•Bigelow Brook culvert replacement. The culvert will be laid beneath Edgerton Street and an abandoned railroad embankment that carries the Cheney Rail Trail. Work is expected to begin in June and take about six months.
The project also includes installation of a concrete arch, 54 feet long and 40 feet wide, that will continue the trail and connect Center Springs Park to the area on Broad Street that is being redeveloped.  CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Construction industry to hire more than 100,000 vererans

In an announcement Feb. 10 at A National Symposium: Veterans' Employment in Construction, hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor and Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez celebrated a broad coalition of construction employers and associations that have collectively pledged to hire 100,000 veterans over the next five years.
Also at the announcement were representatives of the construction companies making these hiring commitments, veterans who have completed apprenticeships in the construction industry, and other leaders in the field. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, the First Lady wrote:  CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Nation faces painful scenario without new highway trust fund

Fixing the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) without generating any new revenue would require the equivalent of Congress passing and the president signing a 2013-level Murray-Ryan budget deal every year just to maintain current highway and transit program investment levels, American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President Pete Ruane Feb. 12 told a Senate panel.
According to a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, the HTF will be unable to support any investments in new projects come September, and will require, on average, $16.3 billion annually just to preserve the current transportation program. By comparison, over a two-year period, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013—the Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) budget deal—reallocates resources to increase the non-defense discretionary spending cap by an average (ironically) of $16 billion per year CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

February 13, 2014

CT Constructin Digest February 13, 2014

Going big, Developer steams ahead with Monroe mega store project

Since the recession, retail development in southwestern Connecicut largely has been limited to first-floor space in new apartment buildings and retrofitting vacant big-box stores. But a Monroe developer is bucking that trend with plans for a mega-store complex.
The town's planning and zoning commission last month approved plans by Kimball Development for a 161,000-square-foot retail building on Victoria Drive off Main Street (Route 25) near the Swiss Army corporate headquarters. Plans for the project, which will be built on 40 acres and require road improvements and construction of a waste-water treatment facility, are being reviewed by the state Traffic Administration and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Developer John Kimball has a tenant for the project, called Victoria Place, but he isn't telling. He also hasn't told the traffic administrators as finishing touches are put on its final submission to the agency, according state Traffic Administration spokesman Kevin Nursick. CLICK OK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Town meeting on sewer project in Hawleyville

NEWTOWN -- After a public hearing Tuesday, the Newtown Water and Sewer Authority voted to approve a resolution to bond for $2.8 million to pay the costs for planning, design, acquisition, construction and installation of sewers along Route 6 to serve the Hawleyville area west of Whipporwill Hill Road to Splending Place and along Route 25 to serve a section of Covered Bridge Road.Town leaders had previously endorsed the project, and on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Center taxpayers will be asked to vote on the project.The proposed sewer project is touted as a means to help attract economic development in a commercially-zoned area off Interstate 84. The 20-year bonds for this project will be paid through benefit assessments by the users.

Newington hires agency to manage Natinal Welding site development

At their meeting Tuesday, the Newington Town Council authorized the town to hire the Capitol Region Development Authority to manage the revamp of the blighted National Welding property, but is still deciding whether or not to enter into a contract with the state to use a $2 million grant for the project, estimated to cost over $4 million.Because the site is adjacent to CTfastrak’s Cedar Street Station that’s now being built, it poses an opportunity for “transit-oriented development” — a term locals have long feared the implications of.Tuesday’s resolution authorizing the town manager to enter into an agreement with the CRDA to administer the $2 million grant and handle the demolition, abatement and then redevelopment of the site passed 6-2. Republicans Maureen Klett and Dan Dinunzio disapproved, citing a lack of information about the selection process.
“There’s nothing to compare to; they were brought to the table like they were the only game in town,” Klett said of the agency, which managed the construction of the CT Convention Center and other large-scale projects in the Hartford area. CLICK OK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
UConn has signed an $88 million contract with a New Haven construction company Skanska to build a facility at the school's technology park, according to Skanska.The 118,000-square-foot Innovation Partnership Building will house laboratories for researchers and entrepreneurs to work alongside UConn students, Skanska said. The project is slated for a Jan. 2017 completion date.
The company built Laurel Hall — UConn's 68,000-square-foot, $26 million social sciences and humanities building in 2011. Skanska is a Swedish company with its U.S. construction headquarters in New Haven.

Burns & McDonnell to hire 54 new employees

The firm said demand is driving the additions. It posted $2.3 billion in sales across all its business units last year, up 15 percent from $2 billion in 2012.The Kansas City company, which has 325 New England workers, said the planned additions are part of a company-wide plan to hire 600 people this year. The employee-owned firm said it added 700 jobs in 2013, ending the year with 4,300.


February 12, 2014

CT Construction Digest February 13, 2014

Major expansion underway at UCONN Health Center

FARMINGTON — Since Gov. Dannel Malloy signed his job-creation initiative in June 2011, nearly 1,700 construction jobs have been created on the campus of UConn Health Center. In the next six years, the initiative is expected to create another 3,000 construction jobs. Bioscience Connecticut is the large-scale state investment in facility upgrades, regional collaborations, and educational expansion that supports the governor’s vision of making Connecticut an international destination for health care and bioscience research.
“We’re just trying to turn the governor’s vision into a reality,” said Tom Trutter, UConn Health Center’s associate vice president for campus planning, design and construction.  Seven major construction projects are ongoing on the 164-acre campus, a massive, renovation undertaking built with $500 million in state dollars. Each project has a different completion date; each varies in complexity. According to Trutter, a New Britain resident, the overall Bioscience Connecticut initiative — probably the largest of its kind in the nation — is on time and on budget. He estimates that approximately $868 million will be invested in overall construction by the completion of all campus projects. Trutter, a University of Illinois graduate with an architectural degree and a UConn MBA, has conducted similar projects in Storrs and at Yale University. If there is a theme to the renovation, it’s wider space, more light and lots of glass. The research building with wider corridors and more spacious labs will be occupied the first week in March.“To attract the best researchers you have to have the best space,” Trutter explained. The skeleton of what will be the new emergency department and operating room suite is taking shape. There will also be a patient drop-off circle on Level 2, for access to the building’s Farmington Surgery Center. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Newington Town Hall plans go back to the drawing board

NEWINGTON -- Renovation of town hall and construction of a new community center were put on hold Monday after cost estimates came in about 30 percent over budget. Town Hall Renovation Committee Chairman Clarke Castelle said a hoped-for referendum in June to approve funding will have to be pushed back. He said it's unclear when the vote would take place or construction, originally slated for later this year, would begin. "We've clearly faced a setback," Castelle said. "I believe it's a problem that can be solved. I'm not discouraged." The committee sent architect Kaestle Boos back to the drawing board, asking the firm to revise town hall renovation plans to fit the budget.

Officials make cuts from Wethersfield High School reconstruction project

WETHERSFIELD -- The school building committee chopped another $1 million-plus from the Wethersfield High School reconstruction Monday, part of the town's effort to overcome millions of dollars in cost overruns on the project. Reductions ranged from $244,000 to reduce the roof pitch from one-half to one-quarter inch to $8,000 for eliminating tack boards around white boards.
The committee cut more than $1 million dollars last month, bringing the total cost-saving changes to more than $2.1 million, Preconstruction Manager Lorel Purcell of O & G Industries said.
The reductions, reviewed and approved by engineers and school and town officials, do not fundamentally affect the building's design or quality, committee members said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
WATERBURY — The city's plan to build a greenway on the Naugatuck River has hit a bureaucratic speed bump in Hartford, city officials say. The state Department of Transportation is taking longer to review the city greenway plans than expected, as several of its divisions comb through the preliminary proposal. That means a two- to three-month delay for the first hearing on the project, said Salvatore Porzio, the city project manager. Construction is still set to begin in 2015. "I've been told I'd been too optimistic with my timeline," he told the Board of Aldermen on Monday. "As soon as I've got a date, you will have a date." He did have tentative expenditure numbers, however. The city has spent $750,000 so far, and signed contracts worth an estimated $2.6 million, Porzio said.
Of that, $1.1 million is coming from grants, he said.
Last month, the Board of Aldermen agreed to spend more than $1 million to fund the next phase of project, which, after all grants are factored in, could cost taxpayers $8 million. The $1 million will be used to create preliminary drawings that will extend the greenway into downtown, including Freight Street, the train station and Library Park The drawings will be used to apply for a federal grant that would pay for about 80 percent of the proposed $33.7 million greenway expansion. The city hopes its 20 percent match, which could run as much as $8 million, would paid by the state, which funded city shares for other Connecticut grant recipients.

Transportation plan in works

HARWINTON — The state Department of Transportation is seeking local input as it sets out to create a long-term plan addressing transportation infrastructure in the state. A workshop was held by the DOT at Harwinton Town Hall on Tuesday to kick off the effort and drew more than two dozen municipal officials and representatives of the Northwest Connecticut Transit District and the Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corp. According to DOT strategic planner David Elder, the agency wants to identify the transportation needs of the state and produce a plan that would meet them and result in economic development and an improved quality of life.
"The challenge is how do we get there," Elder said.
The plan DOT is developing is known as "Transform CT." Elder said the goal is to have the plan completed in 12 months. Among the transportation aspects that will be addressed by the plan are bus service, highways, rail lines, bike trails and sidewalks. Elder and two other DOT strategic planners asked participants to list their priorities, one of which was the need to improve the railroad line running through the Housatonic River valley. The line is used to transport cargo to industries in Canaan and in Massachusetts but it is in dire need of repair, according to Daniel McGuiness, the retired planning director of the former Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments.
"If the railroad isn't fixed, you will have big economic trouble in Northwest Connecticut," McGuiness said.Another priority mentioned is a centralized bus center serving Northwest Connecticut. It has been a priority of local governments for 12 years, according to Richard Lynn, planning director of the Northwest Hills Council of Elected Officials. "Somehow we need to speed up the process between when needs are established and funding is made available by the state," Lynn said.
Carol Deane, an official with the Northwest Connecticut Transit District in Torrington, said she's grown tired of talk about a centralized bus center. Funding of $2 million was pledged years ago, Deane said, but the money never materialized.
"We've been meeting with the DOT on this for 12 years and nothing has happened," Deane said. "It's been study after study and now we have another one. I'm just a little disgusted."
Martin Connor, city planner in Torrington, mentioned center turn lanes on busy roads such as East Main Street in Torrington and more rotaries as ways to improve transportation. McGuinness mentioned Portland, Ore., Brooklyn, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt., as places the DOT can refer to when developing improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians."People enjoy living there because it's not a hassle to get around, unlike Connecticut," McGuiness said. "There's nothing in Connecticut comparable to Burlington."