April 30, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 30, 2014

Neighbors unhappy with noise from school projects

SOUTHINGTON — Neighbors of the middle schools that are undergoing renovations aren’t happy with some disruptive noises that started a little more than a week ago.
Kennedy and DePaolo middle schools have been under construction for nearly a year in a $89.7 million renovation project to update the facilities. The Middle School Building Committee learned at its meeting Tuesday that some neighbors on Werking Street and South Main Street near Kennedy haven’t been happy with the level of noise coming from the construction site.
Two neighbors were frustrated with the “loud banging” after 8 p.m. and continuing until close to 11 p.m.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
North Stonington - Town and school officials went into Monday night's town meeting on the defensive for a $47 million school renovation project, armed with impassioned speeches and a pamphlet of colorful renderings one week before taxpayers will vote yea or nay. Officials have repeatedly laid out the financial commitments that go along with the project - an estimated $31.25 million cost-share for the town and an accompanying tax rate increase of up to 5.31 mills - while also illustrating it as a need. The 50-plus-year-old facilities present multiple infrastructure and security issues and do not meet modern building code, health code, or educational standards. Six years ago, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges - the accrediting body of the region - placed Wheeler High School on a warning list. Still, the feedback from the crowd of more than 100 in the North Stonington Elementary School multi-purpose room was split among the two factions that have made themselves heard for the past few months: Those who think the renovations are long overdue and those who don't think they're worth the tax bump.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CTfastrak open house Wednesday

The state Department of Transportation said it will host the first of two open-house events Wednesday at the Old State House in Hartford.
The DOT said it wants to educate area residents and employees about the bus-only road from New Britain to Hartford that will begin service in early 2015.
The open house will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with a presentation at noon. Admission is free.
The second event will be May 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library.

Outlook is optimestic for outlet shopping

As the home to 14 shopping centers — from the Tanger Outlet Center of Westbrook to the Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester — it would seem Connecticut has plenty of options for the state's retail consumers. But three new proposed multi-million dollar outlet center developments — in Cheshire, East Hartford and at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Ledyard — will collectively add more than 1.1 million square feet of retail space in the Nutmeg State by 2016. The new projects indicate developers are once again bullish on the state's retail sector, following a lull in new activity following the Great Recession. The developments also reflect a national trend in the growing popularity of outlet centers. In fact, figures from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) show that nearly 40 of the U.S.'s 225 outlet centers have opened since 2006. "Outlets are the name of the game," said Gary Skoien, CEO of Horizon Group Properties, a Michigan-based company that plans to invest $84 million in a 350,000-square-foot retail development at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, the company's first project in Connecticut. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newington town hall committee approves $30.3M plan

NEWINGTON -- The town hall building committee Monday unanimously approved a $30.3 million plan to renovate the building and construct a standalone community center.
"This is a priority that needs to be done, that's needed to be done for many years," said committee member and Councilwoman Myra Cohen. "I really support this wholeheartedly."
The proposal now goes before the town council. If the council approves the plans, it would have to schedule a referendum for bonding to finance the work. Town Manager John Salomone said the council could set a referendum as soon as 60 days from the date of its approval. A fall vote, if it backs the project, would mean work could begin next year, he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction company sues Ansonia

ANSONIA >> The city is being sued by a Clinton construction company who built the riverwalk on Division Street, claiming it wasn’t paid for some of the work it did four years ago. However, Hammonasset Construction, LLC owner Kim Simoncini said Tuesday she’s “hopeful things can be resolved” before it goes any further in court. Simoncini believes with the transition from the previous Della Volpe administration (when the project was built) to the current Cassetti administration, the closing out of the riverwalk project “slipped through the cracks.” “I enjoyed working with the city, and I think we had a great rapport,” Simoncini said. “The project turned out absolutely beautiful.”
 Simoncini said the company was paid for the majority of the work, but additional work the city requested, outside the scope of the original contract, remains unpaid. “There is a balance and we need to resolve it,” Simoncini said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Guilford residents say school construction costs privacy, scenery

GUILFORD >> Nearly two weeks after residents of the community adjacent to the site of the new Guilford High School expressed their concerns about the ongoing construction, the Board of Selectmen spent more than an hour Tuesday discussing possible solutions to the issues.  On April 17, the selectmen met with Long Hill Farm residents who were “frustrated and upset” with what they called a loss of privacy, scenery and peace and quiet as a result of the construction associated with Guilford’s new $92 million high school, according to meeting minutes.  Tuesday’s meeting served to explore how the town could address concerns from the residents and representatives from the Guilford High School Building Committee ultimately decided to take the lead in meeting with the project’s landscape architect and Long Hill Farm residents to discuss solutions to restore a landscaping buffer between the school and development.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wetlands cleanup behind Reed school to begin in August

WATERBURY -- A $3 million environmental cleanup of wetlands behind the Jonathan E. Reed Elementary School is planned to launch in August. It's been two years since the $48 million school opened to students following a massive cleanup of an 8-acre site off North Main Street that had housed a mix of residential and industrial buildings. That cleanup involved digging away many tons of soil and carting it off for specialized disposal. All that remains untouched is a nearly acre-sized wetlands, including a stream, cutting through the property closely behind the school. It has been cordoned off behind a chain-link fence since Reed opened. School officials say it is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyl (or PCBs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), petroleum and heavy metals. At present, the Reed Project still has $3.5 million of its budget unspent, according to school officials. Cleanup of the wetlands is estimated at $3 million. The project will involve diverting the stream to one-half of the wetlands so soil on the other half can be treated. Next, the stream will be diverted to the cleaned side of the wetlands and the process repeated. A dam will be removed during the project. "This will be the final phase that will allow us to close up the Reed project," schools Chief Operating Officer Paul Guidone told the Board of Education during a meeting last Thursday. Guidone is seeking board approval to take cleanup plans to the state Office of School Facilities.
There doesn't seem to be any opposition to the administration's plans on the site.
Mark Sedensky, from the city's chief school construction consultants, O&G Industries, told the school board the hope is to get work launched at the end of August or early September.

Town will rebuild bridge

SOUTHBURY — Now that funding is in place, the town is moving ahead with plans to rebuild the Pomperaug River bridge on River Road. Engineers representing the town have appeared before the Inland Wetlands Commission to explain how the bridge, which was given to the town by the state about 35 years ago, will be rebuilt. The proposal is for one lane to be reconstructed at a time. A temporary traffic light will move traffic through the area so no detour will be needed. The top deck and beams will be replaced, and workers will rehabilitate the concrete piers in the Pomperaug River, which have deteriorated with age. Much of the bridge deck is riddled with bumps and potholes.
Wetlands commissioners have asked that steps be taken to protect the river while work is underway.
They have asked the engineers to limit the silt that will run off into the river. Engineers have said a fabric covering will be placed under the bridge to catch any materials that might otherwise fall in the water. The town will receive more than $3 million in state money to complete the work. Representatives from the Council of Governments of the Central Naugatuck Valley reviewed other transportation projects in the region and determined the Pomperaug River bridge was the only high-priority job that was most near shovel-ready, First Selectman Ed Edelson has said. The bridge was given a poor rating by state inspectors in 2004. Although it is not in danger of collapse, officials have tried for years to obtain a grant to help pay for the work. The town took control of the bridge when the state abandoned River Road, which used to be Route 6. State officials consider the project important because the bridge would carry highway traffic if the Rochambeau and Carney bridges over the Housatonic River on Interstate 84 ever became impassable. Construction will likely begin next year after all permits are obtained.

April 29, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 29, 2014

Merritt Parkway bike trail study hearing in New Canaan

A new study of a multi-use trail running the 37.5-mile length of the Merritt Parkway from Greenwich to Stratford envisions a 10-foot wide asphalt path that could cost as much as $250 million along the historic thoroughfare's wooded median. Michael Calabrese, a project manager for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said engineers remain concerned about the difficulty and cost of a trail through the 150-foot wooded median on the highway's northbound side. Because of the presence of wetlands, significant stretches of the path would be comprised of boardwalks, Calabrese said.
"There are a lot of road crossings and boardwalk areas where you are trying to skirt a wetland that are very challenging," he said.  The Department of Transportation is holding one of a series of public information meetings this spring on the status of the study of the trail at 7 p.m., this Wednesday, at the Outback Teen Center, 71 Main St., New Canaan. Meetings are planned for Trumbull, Stratford, Norwalk and Greenwich.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Infrastructure Investment???

Ron De Feo, CEO of Terex, a global manufacturer of capital equipment used for earth moving, lifting and material handling, and one of Westport’s largest employers, decried the US’s failure to invest in infrastructure before Westport Sunrise Rotary on Friday.  90 percent of today’s Terex, De Feo stated, results from investing $40 Billion in over 40 strategic acquisitions during the past 22 years. Many of these have made it a major competitor in infrastructure construction around the world. He said the company is “pretty positive about the current economic environment,” which he said offers “slow but progressive growth.” He moved on quickly to the core of his talk – “Infrastructure Investment… Or the Lack Thereof.” He called such investments “relevant for where we live, for our company and for our country,” and equated them with “economic prosperity.”  Infrastructure investments have been “transformative over the years.” The Erie Canal, opened in 1825, was the US’s largest infrastructure project to that time, one that reduced the cost of moving a ton of flour from Ohio to New York from one hundred dollars to four. The intercontinental railroad, Panama Canal, our interstate highway system and the Autobahn all had similar impacts.  De Feo listed problems that slowed the rebuilding of our national infrastructure – shovel ready projects that weren’t, among them a bridge over I-95 in Westport that was delayed for almost one year, and was emblematic of a lack of executable projects that reduced the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act from a proposed $100 Billion to $47 Billion program. And the Highway Trust Fund he called an “oxymoron” because its 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax was enacted in 1993, has not been increased since then, and has forced many states to continually up their own taxes.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Seaside developer proposes zoning amendment to allow inn

Waterford — Farmington-based developer Mark Steiner, the state's preferred developer for the former Seaside Regional Center site, has submitted proposed amendments to the town's zoning regulations governing the Seaside Preservation Zoning District including one that would allow construction of an inn on the property. The changes, received Monday by the Planning and Zoning Commission, come a week after state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, and state Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-20th District, proposed an amendment to three legislative bills that would require the Department of Administrative Services to sell the property by Jan. 1 or reissue a request for proposals. "What we're looking at doing is a five-star type of operation that would be very much a world-class resort," Steiner said before the meeting on his plans for the former institution for the developmentally disabled. The developer did not attend the meeting.  He said condos are still part of the plan. Seaside is still zoned to contain up to 122 units. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Duncaster starting $10M expansion this summer

Bloomfield's Duncaster Retirement Community is launching construction this summer on the sixth expansion in its 30-year history to add more independent-living apartments and double its memory-care suites. Work will begin in early July on 12 new apartments and 12 more memory-care suites, totaling 28,000 square feet, on the 87-acre campus at 40 Loeffler Road, said Duncaster Sales Director Carol Ann McCormick. Construction pricetag is estimated at $10 million, McCormick said.
Opened May 15, 1984, Duncaster is comprised of 183 independent and assisted-living apartments, and 12 short- and long-term skilled nursing care suites. "We are expanding to meet the needs of the community," Duncaster President and CEO Michael O'Brien said in a statement. "In fact, within a week of announcing that we were adding these 12 new apartment homes, nine of them were sold."

Electric companies jump on push for new gas lines to New England

Three major utilities in New England want to get in on efforts by public officials across the region to build a natural gas pipeline. Northeast Utilities, UIL Holdings and National Grid have proposed to enter into the long-term gas contracts necessary to begin construction of a multibillion-dollar pipeline, a task that the region's six governors have outlined as essential to ease energy prices.
In the proposal, the utilities said that for the "extraordinary level of investment," they would need to be "appropriately compensated for entering into these long-term contract commitments and for lending financial stability in the form of balance sheet and credit-rating qualifications." The proposal was sent last week to the New England States Committee on Energy, a non-profit composed of representatives from each governor in the region. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State plans to repave sections of Winsted Road

The state is planning on repaving a section of Winsted Road—Route 800—this summer.
Department of Transportation Spokesperson Kevin Nursick said Monday that the state is planning on paving Route 800 between Pinewoods Road and Main Street, Route 44, in Winsted.
“Roughly half of the road surface will be milled to remove compromised asphalt before paving,” Nursick said in an email.  Nursick said work on the project will likely start near the beginning of June and take about three weeks to complete. The project will cost $820,000. The state is additionally conducting pothole work around the state, with some locations in Torrington. Torrington has its own repair list, which is created every year with input from Public Works Director Jerry Rollett, City Engineer Ed Fabbri and Superintendent of Streets Rob Lizotte. There are 10 streets listed in the latest list.  Rollett has previously said that the city tries to spend between $1.5 million to $2 million a year in road work, as the estimated average cost of reconstruction of roads cost $350,000 per mile. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE 

$185M tunnel that leads to nowhere, for now

 NEW YORK (AP) - Taking shape on Manhattan's West Side is a $185 million, federally funded tunnel that leads to nowhere, for now. The 800-foot-long, 35-foot-deep concrete trench could someday lead to two new commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River to New Jersey, if the billions needed to build them ever materialize.  The access tunnel is being built now because the massive Hudson Yards development with six skyscrapers, the tallest being 80 stories, will soon be built on top of it. Trying to dig such a huge trench through the bedrock after those buildings are completed, officials say, would be an engineering and financial nightmare. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was among the lawmakers who pushed Congress to approve Superstorm Sandy relief money for the planned flood-resistant access tunnel, calling it mitigation to protect infrastructure from future storms. But he argued it would have to be built now because the skyscraper developers could not be delayed indefinitely.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 28, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 28, 2014

Ice rink proposal on Fairfield Hills agenda

NEWTOWN -- With spring finally here, some might find it odd that folks are considering bringing ice sports to Newtown. But as hockey and skating fans are aware, winter isn't necessary to play these sports. The Fairfield Hills Authority is slated Monday to consider a proposal to build an ice arena suitable to accommodate a National Hockey League-size rink with seating for 1,200 spectators and an accompanying smaller rink with four curling lanes. Locker rooms, lounge areas, a restaurant, a pro shop and party rooms are part of a plan spelled out in a letter of intent forwarded in November to town Director of Planning and Land Use George Benson. Fairfield Hills Authority Chairman Thomas Connors said the letter will be discussed before considering what the authority wants to require of prospective tenants and developers. Connors said the authority has at times wrestled with what constitutes a bona fide proposal. "This fits into our effort to make the development process a little bit easier for potential tenants and developers," Connors said of crafting the criteria for the project approval. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Putnam pushes for regional partners

A growing regionalization trend is manifesting itself in northeastern Connecticut as Putnam seeks nearby municipalities to partner with it in the construction of a new technology park. Putnam Town Administrator Douglas Cutler said the state’s 169 towns can’t effectively promote economic development on their own.  “We have to come together on a regional basis. If there’s a way we can encourage this so it helps out the region, we’re willing to come to the table and share in the investment of the project and the rewards of the project,” Cutler said. Canterbury First Selectman Roy Piper said his interest was piqued when he heard Putnam leaders present the idea at a Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments meeting last month.  “I think it’s interesting and could be a lucrative thing for the town,” Piper said. “We’ve been through a recession and we’re trying to bounce back. I’m looking for companies to come in and create jobs for residents in the area. A regional tech park might be a way to do that.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

More than 63,000 U.S. bridges need structual repair

Data from a new government report show that if all the structurally deficient bridges in the United States were placed end-to-end, it would take you 25 hours driving 60 miles per hour to cross them. That''s like driving the 1,500 miles between Boston and Miami. And it''s a problem that''s close to home.An analysis of the 2013 National Bridge Inventory database recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) shows cars, trucks and school buses cross the nation''s more than 63,000 structurally compromised bridges 250 million times every day. The most heavily traveled are on the Interstate system.The problem could get a lot worse, the chief economist for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) says, as states across the nation face a slowdown in reimbursements for already approved federal-aid highway projects in August. Without congressional action, Dr. Alison Premo Black says there will be no Highway Trust Fund support for any new road, bridge, or public transportation projects in any state during FY 2015, which begins October 1. "Letting the Highway Trust Fund investment dry up would have a devastating impact on bridge repairs," Black says, noting the trust fund has supported $89 billion in bridge construction work by the states over the past 10 years. "It would set back bridge improvements in every state for the next decade. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 25, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 25, 2014

Remediation plan expected for new Harding High property

BRIDGEPORT -- General Electric officials say they are close to submitting a plan for making 17 acres of its toxic Boston Avenue industrial property clean enough for a new $78 million Harding High School. Whether that will break the stalemate between the city and school board over putting the school on land once permeated with lead and petroleum-based toxins remains to be seen.
"It should be submitted within a week," Ashley Sy, a GE spokeswoman, said of a plan whose absence for months has stood in the way of city school board approval of the site.
The plan to be submitted to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be based on a draft site plan, since the school board has so far declined to approve the plans, Sy said. Normally, cleanup plans are not completed until the site plan is approved. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bridgeport's Steelpointe Harboradvances with property transfer

As Bridgeport’s Steel Point redevelopment — Steelpointe Harbor — continues moving closer to launch, Mayor Bill Finch took another step in the process this week by signing the first property transfer documents.“The development of Steelpointe Harbor is a game-changer for Bridgeport,” Finch said, in prepared comments. “Folks in the Park City have been waiting for this development for a long time, and it’s finally happening. This is a major step toward ensuring the construction of Bass Pro and other retail space, making this the biggest economic development project in the Park City since the industrial revolution.” The project’s private developer now controls the 12 acres north of Stratford Avenue that are needed for the construction of Bass Pro Shops and several other yet-to-be announced retail establishments. “This is a great day for the Steelpointe Harbor,” said Bob Christoph, founder of RCI Group, which is overseeing the development project. “We couldn’t be more excited to move forward and continue working to get Bass Pro Shops and other retailers up and running.”
Bass Pro Shops will be the first anchor commercial tenant of Steelpointe Harbor development. The national retail chain’s Bridgeport store, which will sell boats and outdoor supplies, will be about 150,000 square feet. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Yankee Gas eyes first gas lines installed in the fall

Yankee Gas expects to lay down the first five miles of natural gas mains in New Canaan in the fall.
Paul Zohorsky, vice president of gas operations at Northeast Utilities, Yankee Gas' parent company, announced the news Monday during a forum on natural gas at the New Canaan Library. The event was co-sponsored by the New Canaan League of Women Voters.  Zohorsky said, however, he needs residents to indicate their interest on the utility's website to move the project forward. "We need people to sign up because that tells us where we can expand," Zohorsky said. "The more interest we have, the quicker we can move and the more extensive we can make our system in New Canaan."
Zohorsky said at least 800 people, including residents and business owners, already have expressed interest on the website, newcanaan.iwantnaturalgas.com. He explained that by signing up online, a person is not committing to the service. He said the company is plotting the results from the website on a map so it knows where to focus its door-to-door campaign to get people to actually sign contracts. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Riverview bridge to be replaced in Gaylordsville

The replacement of Riverview Road bridge in the Gaylordsville section of New Milford was set to begin Monday, April 21. Preliminary work is scheduled to be completed by May 5, with Riverview Road to be closed on or about that date until mid-November.
The detour route will be South Kent Road to Long Mountain Road to Brown's Forge Road to Station Road. The old bridge will be removed and a new, wider bridge installed.
The construction work will be done by Black & Water Construction of Unionville.
The $675,329 replacement cost is paid by a bonding package approved by New Milford Town Council in 2012. At some time in May, chip sealing work will be completed on South Kent Road from Riverview Road to Waller Road. During that two-day period, the detour route will be from Kent Road (Route 7) to Grove Road, left on South Kent Road, along Long Mountain Road to Brown's Forge Road and Station Road. A second project will be conducted in Gaylordsville during the spring/summer construction season. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hospital starts work on wound care center

BRISTOL — Bristol Hospital officials on Thursday broke ground on a new Wound Care Center, which will specialize in treating patients with chronic and non-healing wounds.
The 5,561-square-foot building will be constructed prior to installation on the site on the north side of the main hospital building on Brewster Road. The wound care facility will occupy 2,600 square feet and will take up the first floor of the building. The second floor will house some relocated administrative services from the main hospital building, clearing space there for other programs, officials said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NPU ready to build natural gas fueling station

Norwich - Norwich Public Utilities announced today that preliminary design work on a new natural gas fueling station has been completed, and the project is slated for construction at the existing Shell gas station at 168 West Town St. NPU will host a public informational meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the utility headquarters, 16 S. Golden St., to discuss the project. The Federal Highway Administration will provide 80 percent of the construction cost under the Surface Transportation Program administered by the state Department of Transportation. NPU will pay 20 percent of the construction cost. The proposed station will consist of a fuel dispenser located on a concrete slab with overhead canopy, compressors, above-ground cascade storage tank assembly and essential equipment required to fuel vehicles with compressed natural gas. A paved, dual-vehicle access lane will be installed to allow easy vehicle access.

Renaissance tells Bristol it has a solid proposal ready

BRISTOL — The Long Island-based company that has been trying to line up financing to redevelop the former mall site downtown is submitting plans to the city this week, and expects to review them for the public in early May. Some taxpayers and political leaders have grown skeptical in the past year about whether Renaissance Downtowns would be able to line up private financing for mid-rise apartment complexes in the first phase of construction. The company has acknowledged that the national financial collapse of six years ago made financing more problematic, particularly for some ground-floor retail and commercial space that city leaders wanted.On Thursday evening, it was unclear exactly what Renaissance is proposing to the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. One key issue for many residents is the target audience of tenants — with Section 8 housing proliferating in the West End and on Federal Hill in recent years, there's been significant pressure on political leaders not to authorize new subsidized low-income housing on a property that consistently has been promoted as a route to new prosperity. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Senate gives final approval to UTC expansion bill

The Senate overwhelmingly granted final approval Thursday to a landmark deal that authorizes $400 million in tax breaks to United Technologies Corp. to trigger a major expansion designed to preserve Connecticut’s aerospace and engineering base. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who negotiated the deal with one of Connecticut’s largest employers and is expected to sign the tax relief bill, hailed its approval as a major victory for the state’s economy. “This agreement will bolster the state’s aerospace sector, encourage business growth and investment and, most importantly, foster the retention and creation of thousands of good-paying jobs with good benefits for Connecticut residents,” Malloy wrote in a statement shortly after the Senate voted 34-2 to approve the measure. “ … UTC shares our faith in Connecticut’s talented workforce, commitment to innovation, and determination to build a world-class business climate. We could not ask for a better partner and look forward to working together to send the message that Connecticut is committed to continuing its role as a world leader in the aerospace industry.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 24, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 24, 2014

Residents weigh in on town land sale

RIDGEFIELD -- The town should encourage the construction of housing that ordinary people can afford, rather than luxury condominiums. The was the opinion several people expressed at a public hearing Wednesday on the town's plan to sell 10 acres of the Schlumberger-Doll Research Center property for $4 million to Toll Brothers, which builds expensive condos. Voters will decide whether the sale goes through in a town referendum on May 13. "We ask the voters and the Board of Selectmen to consider that instead of high-priced condominiums, mixed-income housing -- which includes a combination of market-rate, moderate and lower-income homes -- will more effectively address the needs of our community, both now and in the future,'' said Lynda Hanley, of the Ridgefield League of Women Voters. "It's nothing against Toll Brothers,'' said David Goldenberg, chairman of the town's Affordable Housing Committee. "But this is the wrong use of this property.'' CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Region 12 heads to the polls

Voters in Region 12 will answer two questions Tuesday, April 29, on a referendum that might well prove a fork in the road for the school district.At issue in the towns of Washington, Roxbury and Bridgewater:
1) Should the district bond $40.9 million to build a consolidated elementary school on the Shepaug Valley Middle/High School campus and do repairs/renovation to the current facility?
2) Should the regionalization plan that requires each of the three towns to have its own elementary school be amended?  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Senate approves workers history curriculum

HARTFORD -- A seemingly minor bill that would include labor history and free market capitalism in the public school curriculum sent the state Senate into a 90-minute debate Wednesday on the U.S. Constitution, balancing checkbooks and the 27th anniversary of the building collapse that killed 28 construction workers in Bridgeport. When the rhetoric died down, the bill passed 25-10. It next heads to the House. It would order state education officials to develop a curriculum, but would not require its inclusion in local school programs. Majority Democrats who promoted the bill said the effects of labor rights and landmark strikes are being lost on the next generation of state residents. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

The nuts and bolts of CTFastrak

NEW BRITAIN — More than 150 people got the opportunity Wednesday night to learn everything they’ve always wanted to know about CTFastrak but were not afraid to ask.
Connecticut’s bus rapid transit system is scheduled to begin operations in March 2015. Attendees at the Institute of Technology and Business Development grilled Michael Sanders, CTfastrak transit administrator, with more than 40 questions ranging from how many new bus drivers will be hired — more than 100 — to will there be lavatories at the bus stations — No. Few of the trips are long enough to merit rest rooms. Formerly, CTfastrak was known as the New Britain-Hartford Busway. The project includes 10 stations in New Britain, Newington, West Hartford and Hartford with buses running every three to seven minutes during peak commuting hours. Traveling on a bus-only road, CTfastrak offers faster travel times for riders, providing service from Bristol, Waterbury, Southington, and Cheshire to destinations in the CTfastrak corridor. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Masonicare to break ground on upscale retirement community in Mystic

WALLINGFORD >> Masonicare will break ground late next month on a $35.4 million upscale retirement community off Coogan Boulevard in Mystic. Masonicare at Mystic will be a 179-unit community that will include independent and assisted living rental apartments. It also will include some assisted living space for individuals with memory care needs, said Margaret Steeves, vice president of marketing for the Wallingford-based nonprofit provider of senior health care services.
The ground-breaking is scheduled for May 22 in Mystic, which is a borough within the town of Stonington. Residents are expected to begin moving into the facility by summer 2015, Steeves said.
Stephen McPherson, Masonicare’s president and chief executive officer, said construction of the new complex will be done by Klewin Construction of Stonington.   Stonington First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. said in a statement that the new Masonicare facility “will provide needed services to the community, additional revenue for our town and new quality jobs for our residents.” The facility is expected to have 150 full- and part-time employees when it opens, according to Steeves. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

USJ's Gengras Center remake starts May 2

 Groundbreaking is set for noon May 2 for the first phase, $10 million addition to its Gengras Center, the school said Tuesday. The 30,000-square-foot Gengras Center opened in 1965 as the first of its kind to offer education and vocational training to middle-school pupils with cognitive, physical and behaviorial disabilities. It also serves as a teaching lab for future instructors. Gengras' 22,000-square-foot expansion will add new classrooms for pupils with autism spectrum disorder, as well as therapy space, a gym, art room and music room. Phase I occupancy is set for June 1, 2015. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

The Hartford plans to move 700 workers from Simsbury to Hartford

HARTFORD — The Hartford plans to relocate 700 workers from its Simsbury offices to its headquarters on Hartford's Asylum Hill in a deal that has been in the works for months.
The Hartford Financial Services Group made the announcement Wednesday. It also confirmed plans to spend at least $140 million in renovations, already underway, to existing space at its Hartford campus — room enough to absorb the 700 workers, the insurer said. The city council on Monday will consider phasing in tax increases over seven years that would result from the renovations. The renovations would push up property values and assessments by the city. City leaders praised the influx of 700 workers and the renovations. The news comes just weeks after accounting firm CohnReznick announced that it will move nearly 200 workers to downtown Hartford by the end of the year. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 23, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 23, 2014

Expanded hospital nears opening

DANBURY -- It's not exactly a countdown.
But with Danbury Hospital's $150 million tower expansion nearing completion, the construction site is buzzing with activity. "It's nonstop," Morris Gross, the hospital's vice president for facilities, said Tuesday as he led a tour of the new building for The News-Times. "When you can see the finish of something, you want to get there." Construction of the hospital's 300,000-square-foot building, the largest and most expensive in the hospital's 129-year history, is done. Workers are pushing to finish the interior as well as complete landscaping to create green spaces, "the Oasis," outside its expansive lobby. The building will be dedicated in June. But because the staff has to learn to use the new facility in phases, patient care probably will start in one of the departments about a month later.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Esty pushes for Brownfield cleanup

NEW MILFORD -- U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., is pushing for investment in the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites in her district and across the country.
She is introducing the Brownfields Redevelopment Tax Incentive Reauthorization Act and rallying support for President Barrack Obama's budget request of $161 million for the Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program. "I hear over and over again from local leaders and business owners that one of the best ways we can revitalize our cities and towns is to support brownfields cleanup efforts," Esty said Tuesday. "Cities and towns throughout central and northwest Connecticut have strong industrial histories and are now in the process of transitioning into new sources of economic growth," she said. "I'm doing what I can to be a strong partner in these efforts."
Esty visited the Century Brass Mill site in New Milford on Tuesday with New Milford Mayor Patricia Murphy. She lauded Murphy for her "tireless efforts" that brought a $2.5 million state grant to the town for the demolition and environmental cleanup of the 320,000-square-foot Century Brass building.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Milane Nurseries owner seeking to build 100 homes in Cromwell

CROMWELL >> In a move officials say could be a positive sign for the town’s recovery from the economic slump, nursery owner Michael Millane has submitted an application to build 100-single-family houses. Millane is seeking approval from the Planning & Zoning Commission to build the houses on a 106-acre parcel of land between Field Road and Nooks Hill Road . The property in question is part of the Millane Nurseries complex. The site “is south of Field, west of the railroad tracks that run through there, and north of Nook’s Hill,” Town Planner Stuart Popper said. The land is zoned R-25, meaning it can be developed for residential housing on half-acre lots, Popper said. A narrative prepared by the engineering firm of Close, Jensen and Miller was included in Millane’s application. The narrative said “several options for residential housing were considered” for the site, including single-family, town houses and duplexes.” The design team said townhouses and duplexes would have allowed for a much higher density but wound have been incongruous with the surrounding neighborhood.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Council OK's Simpson Court parking plan

WALLINGFORD — The Town Council approved a resolution Tuesday allowing the mayor to apply for a $500,000 state grant that would be used to reconstruct the rear Simpson Court parking area.
Councilors voted 7-1 to approve the resolution, with Craig Fishbein, a Republican, voting against it. Republican Town Councilor Christine Mansfield abstained from voting due to her affiliation with Holy Trinity Church, which borders the parking lot. The church would be involved in a proposed public-private agreement to reconstruct the lot, partially because of a retaining wall owned by the church which requires maintenance. The town is seeking grant money from the Main Street Investment Fund. Administered by the state Office of Policy and Management, the grant offers up to $500,000 for downtown infrastructure improvements. The town requested funding through the grant in 2012 but the request was denied. A second round of funding was announced last month. Town Engineer John Thompson said the town is making “substantially the same application” to the state as it did previously. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Norwich — In a half hour's time, the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners approved four budgets for electricity, natural gas, water and sewer Tuesday that all call for no changes to customer rates while at the same time increasing spending for major projects and technology upgrades.
It's the second straight year that Norwich Public Utilities officials presented budgets with no rate increases. The board approved the four budgets without changes. NPU faced criticism from residents, small business owners and large industrial customers in 2012 when the city-owned utility approved a 27 percent water rate increase and a 9 percent sewer rate increase in part to pay for major upgrade projects, some of them federally mandated. During a March 25 budget presentation, NPU General Manager John Bilda said the past rate increases combined with state and federal grants and low-cost loans have provided the funds necessary for the budgeted upgrade projects. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

UCONN downsizes plans for Hartford Times Site

HARTFORD — The University of Connecticut plans to construct a significantly smaller building in downtown Hartford and make greater use of shared space in nearby venues to meet the classroom needs of its new regional campus, university officials said Tuesday. The university initially envisioned a structure of 220,000 square feet, but now it has downsized the building to 140,000 square feet. The Prospect Street property is not large enough to fit the larger building if the school wants to keep it in scale with the Times building, said Laura Cruickshank, the university's master planner. Instead, UConn hopes to schedule some classes in such surrounding venues as the Hartford Public Library, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Connecticut Science Center, the Connecticut Convention Center and Front Street businesses, Cruickshank said. Negotiations are underway, she said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven grant to help Hamden build 33 affordable housing units

HAMDEN >> A grant from a New Haven organization will build a new affordable housing complex on Sanford Street. New Haven Home Recovery Inc. received a $7.6 million grant from the state’s Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative. NHHR promotes the independence of those struggling with homelessness. The grant funding will be used to construct a 33-unit apartment building called “Sanford Commons.” The property currently is vacant and is an “eyesore” for the neighborhood, according to Kellyann Day, chief executive officer of New Haven Home Recovery.
NHHR already has housing units in town on Treadwell Street that were built a few years ago, according to Dale Kroop, director of Economic Development. Day said the new complex will increase the number of affordable housing opportunities in town. “The percentage of affordable rental housing is less than 7 percent the number of requests that Hamden residents made last year for housing assistance, rental assistance and homeless shelters to the United Way’s 211 line (which) was over 450 requests,” Day said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hamden PZC put 1-yr moratorium on Quinnippiac housing expansion

HAMDEN >> Quinnipiac University for one year will not be able to expand its plans for off-campus student housing, after the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday unanimously passed a temporary moratorium.  The university’s neighbors filled seats at Town Hall to speak in favor of a proposed temporary moratorium on the university as well as others higher education institutions.
Commission members for months have discussed an amendment to allow for more time to assess problem areas like off-campus housing, and have proposed drafting a one-year-moratorium, which could prohibit expansions at Quinnipiac and all colleges and universities, with the exception of state schools such as Southern Connecticut State University. Hamden is home to Quinnipiac and the Paier College of Art. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

March construction employment increased in 38 states

 Construction firms added jobs in 38 states over the past 12 months, although job gains leveled off between February and March, according to an analysis April 18 by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the ongoing year-over-year gains point to the urgency of revitalizing and initiating programs to encourage workers and graduating students to get construction careers. "The widespread gains in employment from a year ago are encouraging, given the tough winter many states experienced right through March," said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. "The never-ending winter of 2014 may account for the dip in the number of states that added construction jobs in the latest month, but it is also possible that single-family homebuilders are not adding workers as some forecasters expected."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Thomaston Ave in Waterbury to remain closed through Friday

WATERBURY -- Thomaston Avenue will remain closed near the Thomaston town line likely for the next couple days as the city's Water Department searches for a company to supply a large replacement pipe after Friday's water main break, officials said Monday. On Friday, a rupture in a 42-inch service transmission main washed out the roadway, Water Superintendent Chris Bogucki said at the time it would require a major repair and installation effort. We did get a delivery of some of the materials we need to do the repairs,” Bogucki said Monday. “We got it started; we're waiting for additional pieces to come in, which we expect to get later in the week, then we can finish it up.”
Among the materials already received, he said, is a large, pre-stressed cylinder pipe. But at issue is a ductal iron pipe strong enough to withstand the main's high-pressure water flow. “When you have the standard pressure rating, it's easy to find,” he said. “But the high-pressure ductal iron pipe people don't tend to have readily available.” Thomaston Avenue traffic is expected to be detoured at least until Friday, he said, as the Waterbury-based contractor Dayton Construction works on the repairs.
He added he does not expect the project to require significant overtime work, other than to guard the open road trench at night. He said there is no estimated cost for the repairs yet.

April 22, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 22, 2014

Projects offer hope for some Bristol flood relief

BRISTOL — The city has $1.7 million worth of flood control projects already funded and designed. The one closest to construction is a planned $380,000 channel widening of Coppermine Brook just north of Farmington Avenue that will likely require Staples to lose a little parking.
Assistant City Engineer Ray Rogozinski said the project may be out to bid as early as this summer. A few other projects also offer hope of reducing flooding along the brook and the Pequabuck River after heavy rains, floods that have caused millions of dollars in damage in recent years. The city is working to create a water storage area on New Britain watershed property, south of Shawn Drive and east of Jerome Avenue. The $820,000 project would store excess water and release it after storms pass, decreasing the volume flowing into the strained brook that so frequently overflows. In the Richards Court area, officials said they would like to relocate a berm closer to a handful of houses to allow greater channel capacity and prevent water from creeping into the neighborhood. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Connecticut, federal officials discuss need for more natural gas

HARTFORD >> U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used a whirlwind trip to southern New England to voice his support for efforts to end capacity problems with natural gas transmission lines in New England  Moniz visited Providence Monday morning and came to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection headquarters in the afternoon as energy industry officials discussed the need to bring more natural gas into the region. The two events were part of the federal agency’s Quadrennial Energy Review. Moniz was joined by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, as well as Connecticut’s U.S. Reps. John Larson, D-1, and Elizabeth Esty, D-5. “The energy discussion in New England really centers around infrastructure constraints,” Moniz said to participants in the Connecticut forum.  Moniz and other participants at the forum agreed that coming up with a solution to the lack of capacity in natural gas transmission lines will require a delicate balancing act. That’s because New England relies heavily on natural gas not only to heat homes, but also to run the region’s power plants which provide electricity. But forum participants disagreed widely over the best way to address the problem. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Southington commission voices concerns about energy plant

SOUTHINGTON — Town officials are awaiting a proposal on a filter that will be used to control odors from food waste at the anaerobic digestion facility planned for the former landfill on DePaolo Drive. The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the waste-to-energy proposal in January. It will occupy 35 acres alongside a mulch-processing facility created by Supreme Forest Industries of Harwinton.  The waste-to-energy facility will be operated by Quantum Biopower, a division of Supreme Forest Industries. Local businesses such as supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, and other food waste producers could use the service. The state legislature passed a law that went into effect this year requiring certain food and wholesale distributors to recycle organic material to help cut back on landfill use and to create alternate sources of energy.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

School architects's rocky road

If it had been the first issue during the Maloney High School renovation project, Meriden officials say they might have been able to get over a $400,000 slip-up made by the architectural firm Fletcher Thompson. But they say the error was far from the first in Meriden or Southington, where the firm is responsible for the middle school renovation projects. Now Meriden officials are wondering who’s going to foot the bill. At a School Building Committee meeting earlier this month, representatives from Fletcher Thompson explained that a series of six errors in the designs could end up costing close to $400,000. They added that there was no immediate plan for covering those costs, but the representatives made it clear the company wouldn’t be absorbing the cost and there is no guarantee the insurance plan will cover it either. “You have the right to put the claim in. You can do it now, or you can do it at the end of the project, but our insurance agent won’t take any action until the end of the project, so that he can look at all potential claims at once,” Fletcher Thompson Chief Financial Officer Michael S. Mercinek said at the meeting. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Westfarms refreshes look with multi-million dollar makeover

Sometime in May, kids will converge on Westfarms Mall in West Hartford as the Lego Store opens its newest location there, perhaps to include demos from master brick builders.
Behind the scenes, Westfarms construction crews will be hard at work on their own building project — a multi-million dollar facelift to the 40-year-old facility. Undergoing its first significant renovations in years, Westfarms is tinkering with its look, and retailer lineup, in an effort to woo new patrons and maintain its current customer base at a time when competition from online retailers and lifestyle shopping centers is putting pressure on traditional malls nationwide. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT poised to lift three-year ban on wind turbines

Key legislative leaders and energy officials have reached a tentative agreement to lift the state's three-year ban on wind turbine development, just in time for a northeast Connecticut project to move forward. And the Kumbaya moment probably will fall on Earth Day. The ban likely will be lifted Tuesday, as the General Assembly's Regulation Review Committee is poised to approve wind turbine development regulations that have been at the heart of the three-year moratorium since 2011, according to the committee's leadership. "I don't think [the regulations] will have a problem this time around," said State Rep. Selim Noujaim (R-Waterbury), co-chair of the regulation committee. "I only speak for myself as co-chair … but now is the time, and I think the whole committee will vote to pass it."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Manchester board approves school facilities plan

MANCHESTER — The board of education unanimously approved a school facilities improvement plan Monday night that includes the creation of two large elementary schools and the closing of two others. The proposal now goes to the board of directors, who will consider a bonding referendum in November. The school board's recommendation has two phases. The first part includes creation of a fifth- and sixth-grade school combining Bennet Academy with the Cheney Building; the "like new" renovation and expansion of Waddell Elementary School to accommodate 525 students; and construction of a new Verplanck Elementary School on the current site, also serving 525 students.
As an alternative for the directors to consider, the board also included a like-new renovation and expansion of Verplanck. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

$3M grant for downtown road improvements

The City of New Britain, with assistance from the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency (CCRPA), has been awarded a $3 million grant for improvements in downtown New Britain at Columbus Boulevard, Main Street, and Bank Street. The project will address transportation safety deficiencies and enhance the connection between downtown and the CTfastrak bus station that is currently under construction. Erin Stewart, Mayor of New Britain, spoke of the benefits, "This project is one of many that will transform and energize the downtown. Building on the momentum of CTfastrak and modernizing the City's aging infrastructure, we are setting the stage for economic development in the heart of the City." Funded through the State's Accident Reduction Program, the project will improve safety for all road users. The area has a history of motor vehicle accidents, and certain roadways can be particularly intimidating for pedestrians. For example, some locations lack adequate crosswalks and sidewalks.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT water to start projects in Clinton

Connecticut Water announced that work will begin this month on water main projects along two sections of Route 1 in Clinton. The projects will improve system reliability, enhance water quality, and increase the flow water available for fire protection. On April 21, a cleaning and lining project will begin on Route 1 (West Main Street) between Commerce and Grove streets. The work will be done between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and is scheduled to be completed by the end of May. Cleaning and lining improves the water main and reduces leakage without replacing it by using a mechanical device to scrape the inside of the main and apply a new cement lining. Because the water main does not need to be replaced there will be minimal impact on traffic. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

B&M again named top place to work in CT

For the fifth consecutive year, the New England office of Burns & McDonnell has been named among the Best Places to Work in Connecticut from the Hartford Business Journal. Burns & McDonnell was ranked 8th among large companies that were recognized. Large companies were categorized as those with over 200 employees. Overall, thirty-five companies were recognized as top places to work in Connecticut for the year 2014, and that list was determined through a national survey conducted by The Best Companies Group that ranks the most progressive companies in the state based on employee satisfaction. Brett Williams, senior vice president of Burns & McDonnell's New England office said: "Our growth throughout Connecticut has been explosive, and recognition like this is not only very gratifying, but also helps us in continuing to recruit top-tier talent." "We value our employee-owners, who are the key to our success CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Guilford's new high school project moving along

GUILFORD >> Ten months after the groundbreaking for the town’s new $92 million high school, officials said at Monday’s Board of Finance meeting that the construction project is moving along smoothly. “There’s no reason for me to believe that anything is out of sorts (with the project),” said Michael Ayles, a member of the Board of Finance. Aside from a minimal update on the status of the new school, officials discussed the repurposing of the science wing of the current high school. Ayles said the existing high school will be totally demolished with the exception of the science wing, which will be repurposed as a fitness center and storage area for the town with no connection to the school.
“It has nothing to do with the school system,” Ayles said. “Once the new high school is completed, the kids are moved over there and the current building is demolished — except for the science wing, the science wing becomes a town building,” First Selectman Joseph Mazza said. “In no way is it a school building and that’s important (to distinguish).”  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Nevada based business looks to take advantage of tax incentives at development zone near airport

 HARTFORD >> Eight months after the creation of a development zone centered around Waterbury-Oxford Airport, the Connecticut Airport Authority has taken the first step toward having a business take advantage of the tax incentives associated with the program. Las Vegas-based Autonomy Technology has applied to the Airport Authority to operate from within the airport’s development zone, selling and manufacturing portable power generation and distribution systems. Autonomy Technology has operations in Oregon and Alaska in addition to Las Vegas, but the Oxford facility would be the company’s first location in the northeastern United States, Airport Authority officials said Monday. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement that the application filed by Autonomy Technology shows “the significant possibilities of utilizing this airport as an economic driver for the region.” “I am glad that this new development zone is beginning to show positive results,” Malloy said. The company’s application indicates an initial projection of approximately 18 to 20 new, full-time positions at its Oxford location over the next two years. The company already has begun operating in the development zone and now is applying for the benefits associated with being located within it, said Kevin Dillon, the executive director of the Airport Authority. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 21, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 21, 2014

Malloy talks transportation infrastructure fixes in Berlin

BERLIN — There’s a general belief that Connecticut’s biggest weaknesses in making itself an attractive place to do business and in turn hindering its ability to grow economically lies with its dilapidated roads, bridges and its aging highway and rail systems. The time has come, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday at the Connecticut Association of Street and Highway Officials annual meeting, to fix that by continually investing in the state’s transportation infrastructure. He said the proposed state transportation budget for 2015 represents a 165 percent increase in funding compared to 2010 levels and includes about $1.4 billion to fund the largest transportation capital program in Connecticut’s history. “I have a strong belief that Connecticut has underinvested in its infrastructure for a long period of time, perhaps over a 40-year period of time,” he said. “We are paying the price.”
Malloy said that poor infrastructure results in longer commute times, traffic jams on highways, and increased labor and fuel costs. Some of that, the governor hopes will be cured by a plan to invest $345 million for bus and rail upgrades and $1.4 billion to improve highways and bridges, which will directly affect local communities such as New Britain and Berlin. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Howard Street parking lot added to plans for New London's Shaw Cove

New London - The Shaw's Cove area could be the site of significant development in the next year, with a 450-space parking lot now proposed down the street from a planned retail and residential complex announced last fall. Tony Silvestri, who managed the New London Harbour Towers project and the ongoing City Flats housing restoration plan, has been working with the Renaissance City Development Association to develop plans for a parking lot at the corner of Howard and Hamilton streets. Kyle Klewin, a partner in Klewin Development of Groton, received approval last month from the Planning and Zoning Commission for a development at the corner of Bank and Howard streets consisting of a grocery store on the ground level and apartments on three floors above. He expects to break ground within a year. The 5-acre parcel proposed for the parking lot once included the site of a New London landmark, Hughie's restaurant. It's under the control of the RCDA, the successor to the New London Development Corp. Silvestri said the parking lot he is proposing could help alleviate some of the issues created by Electric Boat employees parking on Pequot Avenue and on nearby residential streets. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 Developer to allow archaeologists to monitor site

NEW HAVEN >> A downtown developer has agreed to allow the state archaeologist to observe the excavation of a building site that may contain historical artifacts.  State archaeologist Nicholas F. Bellantoni said Friday that Middletown-based CenterPlan will let him “monitor activities and recover and record any artifacts.” Bellantoni already has visited the site, located at College Street, between George and Crown streets, where CenterPlan is building a $50 million, mixed-use development.
“My field review suggests that the artifacts and structural features encountered thus far date to the late-19th and early 20th centuries,” Bellantoni said. The agreement comes after public outcry led by New Haven resident Robert Greenberg. A citizen historian, Greenberg contended that a portion of the College Street site has remained untouched by industrial construction since the founding of New Haven in 1638. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE 

New Haven industrial site to be transformed to housing

 NEW HAVEN >> A derelict industrial site that has generated intense interest in the Goatville neighborhood is on its ways to conversion to more than 200 apartments. The City Plan Commission has approved the site plan for the units at the shuttered Star Supply building on State Street, which abuts the long-closed railroad bridge on the same street, just past the intersection with East Street.
A total of 235 residential units will be constructed to replace the warren of buildings that have been empty for some time, an eyesore, but a site with a lot of potential that neighbors wanted to see put to its highest and best use. An earlier version was rejected over the number of units and parking spaces, as well as the height. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 Apprentices make the world go round

The only good news about a national shortage of construction industry workers is that economic recovery for the industry is not yet here. The unsettling thought is that when boom times finally do return, contractors won't have enough team members to benefit from it.
Associated General Contractors is concerned enough that it has rolled out "A Workforce Development Plan for the 21st Century." It proposes that Congress respond to the crisis in a variety of ways including immigration reform that encourages undocumented workers to keep working and lets more such workers cross the border.
Other proposals include enabling legislation for more construction-focused charter schools, new rules to lure veterans into training programs, and a law allowing open-shop contractors to jointly fund construction training programs as union-shop contractors already can. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

HTF needs cash infusion by late summer

Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014 according to a report issued this week. According to the report, the Highway Account began FY 2014 with approximately $1.6 billion in cash. A $9.7 billion transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Account was processed shortly after the start of the fiscal year ($10.4 billion authorized in MAP-21, reduced by sequestration). The surface transportation program continues to outlay at a greater pace than receipts are coming in. As a result, the cash balance has dropped by nearly $3.5 billion since the General Fund transfer occurred. As of March 28, 2014, the Highway Account cash balance was $8.4 billion.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

April 17, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 17, 2014

United Rentals sees net income jump

United Rentals, Stamford-based global equipment rental company, announced first quarter net income of $60 million or 56 cents per diluted share, compared with $21 million or 19 cents per diluted share for the same period last year. Total revenue was $1.18 billion and rental revenue was $1.01 billion, compared with $1.10 billion and $916 million, respectively, for the same period last year. The company has reaffirmed its outlook for a full-year increase in rental rates of about 4 percent, and full-year total revenue in a range of $5.45 billion to $5.65 billion. “We’re off to a strong start in 2014, with notable year-over-year growth in rates, time utilization and volume,” CEO Michael Kneeland said, in prepared comments. “Despite the headwind of a harsh winter, we strategically managed our business to capitalize on pockets of opportunity. We now see solid demand in almost every market, giving us further confidence in our full year outlook. The feeling in the field is upbeat — our customers and managers are bullish about business prospects, including the long-awaited recovery in commercial construction. We plan to leverage our scale in this environment and bring in about $750 million of fleet in the second quarter.” The integration of the National Pump acquisition is going well, he said, and United Rentals recently opened three specialty branches in trench safety, power and heating, ventilating and air conditioning. United Rentals has reaffirmed its outlook for full-year 2014 free cash flow in the range of $425 million to $475 million, after net rental capital expenditures of about $1.2 billion and gross purchases of about $1.7 billion. During the first quarter, the company repurchased $43 million of common stock as part of the $500 million share repurchase program that was announced in October 2013. The company’s intention is to complete the program by April 2015.

Large projects drive construction cost escalation in first quater

Turner Construction Company announced that the First Quarter 2014 Turner Building Cost Index – which measures costs in the non-residential building construction market in the United States – has increased to a value of 885. This reflects a 0.80% increase from the Fourth Quarter 2013 and 4.24% yearly increase from the First Quarter 2013.  The increase in construction costs is the reflection of various market factors including constrained availability of labor, stability in commodity prices and competition in the market. Large projects in urban centers have witnessed an increased level of cost escalation while competition for small and medium-sized projects is working to restrain increase in construction costs. Approximately 90% of Turner’s business is performed under contract arrangements where Turner provides extensive preconstruction planning services before the contract price is fixed and before construction starts. By providing preconstruction services and utilizing enhanced procurement strategies, Turner effectively manages the market risks associated with cost-related issues.  Turner has prepared the construction cost forecast for more than 80 years. Used widely by the construction industry and Federal and State governments, the building costs and price trends tracked by the Turner Building Cost Index may or may not reflect regional conditions in any given quarter. The Cost Index is determined by several factors considered on a nationwide basis, including labor rates and productivity, material prices and the competitive condition of the marketplace. This index does not necessarily conform to other published indices because others do not generally take all of these factors into account.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

It helps to be prepared, with an AED

SOUTHINGTON — Since the mid-1970s, John Barrasso has trained thousands of people in the construction industry to perform CPR and to use an automated external defibrillator. It wasn’t until recently that he had to put his own training into action, which helped save a woman’s life.
On March 29, Barrasso and his wife, Elaine Barrasso, both Southington residents, attended an annual gala for the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America at The Waterview in Monroe when a woman fell out of her chair onto the floor. “The minister was giving an invocation and all of a sudden we have our heads bowed and we hear, ‘is there a doctor in the house?’” Barrasso said. “I saw a lady and gentleman run to the other side of the room. One was a doctor and one was a nurse.” Once people started helping the woman, Barrasso said someone shouted for a CPR valve mask that helps clear the airway. By habit Barrasso had one hanging on his keychain and ran to give it to them. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Norwich – With the Thames River as a backdrop and standing on a crumbling concrete lot, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy this morning announced $3.8 million in brownfields assessment grants statewide, including $200,000 for the city of Norwich to start a long-planned project to move the city boat launch to the Shipping Street area. The Norwich funding will assess 8.5 acres across five parcels in the Shipping Street-Terminal Way area, a blighted former industrial district that has been a target of city officials for redevelopment for the past decade. The funding announced this morning also includes $200,000 to the city of New London to assess 6.8 acres across two downtown parcels for mixed-use development including affordable housing and $200,000 to Preston to do environmental assessment on 13 buildings slated for demolition at the former Norwich Hospital property. Malloy said while the state's industrial past might have been the backbone of the economy years ago, those buildings and sites now present environmental and blight challenges.CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Falls Village officials give OK for streetscape

FALLS VILLAGE — The Board of Selectmen gave strong support to the design of the streetscape and sidewalk project for Main Street in their approval during a meeting Monday. This came after resident Ellery "Woods" Sinclair read a letter at the start of the session in which he urged the board to oppose it. "The proposed plan is in part contrary to a primary priority of residents: to maintain the rural character of our town and community," Sinclair said. The town received a grant last summer of $450,000 from the Main Street Investment Fund for upgrades to the village center that include installing a sidewalk that will stretch from in front of the Falls Village Inn to the parking lot of Lee H. Kellogg School. It also calls for new landscaping, lamp posts, curbing and the installation of pavers.
First Selectman Patricia A. Mechare said the process has been very open, noting there's never been a downtown plan and this one comports with the town's Plan of Conservation and Development. She told Sinclair she disagreed with him about what the finished product would look like.

April 16, 2014

CT Construction Digest April 16, 2014

Malloy touts transportation spending package

WATERBURY -- At a park and ride lot off exit 23 of Interstate 84 Tuesday morning, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other Democratic politicians touted his five-year slate of highway and transit projects, including a project to widen and repave a 2.7 mile stretch of the interstate, passes through the city.
"This is for the workers 10 years from now or 20 years from now who are getting home from work on time to watch their children's soccer games," said U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn. The plan first issued in January also includes a combined $130 million to repave and rehabilitate the Merritt Parkway in Stamford and add speed-change lanes at exits 14 and 15 in Norwalk on Interstate 95, which is one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the state. "We are moving projects along," Malloy said.  The list of projects totals about $1.8 billion combined, $1.4 billion of it for highways and roads, and $345 million for bus and rail infrastructure. Malloy said the budget includes $57 million for paving pockmarked roads damaged this winter.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State shops bonds for Bridgeport Bass Pro

Connecticut will offer $22 million in municipal bonds to help finance a new store for outdoor retailer Bass Pro Shops in Bridgeport. The sale of the general-obligation bonds through Connecticut Innovations Inc. is expected the week of May 5, according to Moody's Investors Service. The state's financing arm for companies would use the proceeds for a grant toward the construction of the 140,000-square-foot facility, Moody's said. Moody's grades the new securities Aa3, its fourth-highest investment-grade step, saying bond payments are required to be made without further action by the legislature. Bass Pro sells fishing, hunting and camping gear in 85 shops across the U.S. and Canada that are visited by more than 116 million people a year, according to the Springfield, Mo.-based retailer. The store in Bridgeport would "help revive the local economy," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a July 2012 release on the development.

SOUTHINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special permit use application for a proposed 31-unit residential development on Liberty Street. Three buildings would create the residential area totaling 1.28 acres. Stephen Giudice , owner of Harry E. Cole & Son, presented the application on behalf of AA Denorfia Building and Development. The properties are from 84 to 82 Liberty St. Originally when the applicant applied for a special permit use, it included two buildings and it was approved. Since that time an additional building was purchased to the north and will be included, Giudice said, and they had to reapply with the new modifications.
The properties are in the Central Business Zone area and close to the downtown. Twenty-five of the units would be age-restricted and six of them would be non-age constricted.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
CHESTER - With the goal of keeping the planning and construction of the Main Street bridge moving forward, the Board of Selectmen has approved a $4,080 appropriation for planner Brian Kent, on behalf of the town, to sit down with state Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives and engineers to discuss the details and coordination issues involved in the bridge design and that must still be resolved between the town and the state department. First Selectman Ed Meehan told the selectmen earlier this month that the DOT engineers expect the bridge design to be essentially complete by the end of May. At that point, the state would be prepared to select materials and the town and its Main Street Project Committee has developed a list of materials they wish to use not just for the bridge reconstruction, but for the long-term design for the downtown area. "DOT has its own standards for materials and those are not negotiable, but in other areas they can cooperate with us. This appropriation will cover the costs of the time Kent spends with DOT, their consultants, and our committee. He will be spending most of his time, I think, with the DOT consultant to show him the designs for Chester downtown. Our goal is to keep this bridge project moving forward," Meehan said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Politics and policy intersect on I-84 in Waterbury 

Waterbury – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy flexed the powers of incumbency Tuesday in a rain-swept commuter lot by I-84. Malloy couldn’t stop the rain, but he could command a supportive audience of political, union and business leaders. One after another, they stepped to a microphone to thank the first-term Democratic governor, a candidate for re-election this year, for planned investments in transportation infrastructure, even if the pace of those investments has been a source of frustration to some on his guest list, who see a growing backlog of overdue projects. The event was staged by one of the state’s most notorious commuter bottlenecks, a two-lane, 2.7-mile stretch of I-84 on the approach to Waterbury from the east. A third lane will be added in both directions at an estimated cost of $400 million to $450 million, with the project going to bid in June.
“Connecticut is moving again,” Malloy said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State to undertake highway projects to help frustrated commuters (VIDEO)

But in drive-time, it’s a twice daily nightmare of backups and delays.
“It’s backed up sometimes for hours and for miles,” said Bristol native Dean Gusty. “It goes all the way back into Southington actually, it makes the commute hard for a lot of people.”
That’s because the highway east of here was widened almost a decade ago, so one section becomes a bottleneck everyday. The plan to widen this part of the highway has been postponed for nearly ten years. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy. “If you want infrastructure in Connecticut, you’re about to see it under construction.” The Governor announced Tuesday that the $400 million project will finally get underway this year with matching money from the federal government. “This project is the lifeblood of the continued improvement of economic development opportunities here in the city of Waterbury and quite frankly, quality of life issues,” said Waterbury mayor Neil O’Leary. “Recently, I was talking with one of the local business owners and he figures that his drivers spend and hour a day stuck, right out here,” said Representative Elizabeth Esty. The $3 billion in projects announced today included planning for the replacement of the elevated section of Interstate 84 through downtown Hartford. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE