June 30, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 30, 2014

Norwalk rail bridge takes an army to keep running

Leading the way on an up-and-down journey around the girders, steel walkways and angled planks of the underbelly of the railroad bridge over the Norwalk River, state Department of Transportation Assistant Rail Director John Bernick pointed out the 118-year-old span's age-related problems.
A massive set of oil-blackened gears near the center of the bridge is central to the mechanism that rotates the span out of the way when boats need to get by, he said Wednesday during a tour of the bridge.  "It does everything," Bernick said, an early summer breeze blowing by as the river slid past below. The gears set in motion all of the things that have to happen to allow the bridge to move out of the way to allow boats through, and to close again to let trains cross the river. They were the cause of the two most recent mechanical failures that left the bridge stuck open for hours at a time, preventing all trains from getting past.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hartford breaks ground on $21M transportation

Construction crews broke ground this week on a slew of pedestrian and public transportation renovations around BushnellPark that officials say will provide better acess between Union Station and Main Street. Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement that the $21 million "intermodal triangle project" is the first major step of iQuilt, an urban design plan meant to better connect downtown's cultural attractions. The intermodal triangle renovations will improve sidewalks, bus stops and roadways around Union Station, expand pedestrian areas around State House Square, widen the sidewalk on the north side of the park to a promenade, and enhance crosswalks and other amenities on Asylum and Pearl streets. The project has received $11 million in federal funds, with the city is kicking in the rest. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

I-84 in Southington reopens early after bridge replacement is completed

SOUTHINGTON — I-84 in Southington reopened Sunday night, hours ahead of schedule after a weekend bridge replacement project. The highway was shut down at 9 p.m. Friday so that workers could begin demolishing the bridges that carried the highway over Marion Avenue. The new bridges had been constructed on site and were then moved into position over the weekend. The Department of Transportation initially promised to have work completed by 5 a.m. Monday, but was able to reopen the eastbound lanes more than 12 hours ahead of schedule at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The westbound lanes also reopened ahead of schedule, at 8:21 p.m. DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said department staff worked to anticipate every possible problem and had backup plans in place. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 27, 2014

CT Constructin Digest June 27, 2014

Murphy says gas-tax increase necessary

WASHINGTON -- "This town,'' said Sen. Chris Murphy, "has its head in the sand.''
No, the Connecticut Democrat is not a big fan of business as usual in Washington.
For the past 21 years, business as usual has meant not increasing the federal tax on gasoline. And so, as of next month, the Federal Highway Trust Fund will officially be insolvent.
"This is not a joke,'' Murphy said. "The shovels will stop.'' So Murphy and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee have proposed raising the gasoline tax -- and they're not messing around. It's a big enough increase -- successive 6-cents-a-gallon increases for the next two years, and then indexing the tax to inflation going forward -- to actually get something done. And it's big enough to provoke outrage from anti-spending outfits like the Club for Growth, which calls the plan "a $164 billion tax increase, plain and simple.'' CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Brookfield OK's bond for greenway

BROOKFIELD -- Town residents voted to move ahead with the 2-mile Still River Greenway project Tuesday. They supported the $2.4 million bond to finish the project, 1,360-273.
Town officials said 80 percent of the project's cost will be reimbursed by state and federal grants.
The Still River Greenway project still requires final approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before construction can begin.

Steel Point a long time coming but glad its here

Roughly 30 years ago, I saw the first plans to redevelop Steel Point and I was a Bridgeport resident back them.  The first renderings were fantastic. Leonard S. Paoletta was Bridgeport's mayor back then. The project called Harbor Pointe went nowhere.  Then in the early 1990's the property was targeted for a casino entertainment resort and developers Donald Trump and Steve Wynn were among the contenders; as were the Mashantucket Pequots, owners of Foxwood's Casino Resort in Ledyard, Connecticut. The state legislature shot those plans down as there was opposition to expanded casino gaming in the State of Connecticut. We had Alex Conroy propose Harbour Place during the administration of Joseph P. Ganim and politics and corruption derailed plans to transform the land into a waterfront tourist destination. Harbour Place included permanently docking an ocean liner on Bridgeport Harbor to serve as a hotel. The city did acquire the 50 acre parcel, demolished the buildings that were on it and left it a vast urban wasteland. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

 All lanes of I-84 to close this weekend

 SOUTHINGTON — All lanes of Interstate 84 will be closed in both directions near Exit 30 between Friday and Monday while the bridge over Marion Avenue is replaced.
Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said the steel support Beams under the bridge and the road deck will be removed and replaced. “The bridge was built in 1963, the old superstructure is in poor condition and is at the end of its natural life,” he said.
The Southington Rest Area along I-84 will be closed at 9 a.m., followed by the I-84 Exit 30 off and on ramps from 5 to 9 p.m. Marion Avenue will be closed at the ramps and no through traffic will be permitted. Atwater Street will also be closed from Canal Street to Marion Avenue. The lane closures on Friday night will be phased, with one east-bound lane at Exit 27 closing at 6 p.m., and at 7 p,m. one westbound lane at Exit 31 will close. Other lanes will close later in the night Friday. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

New London approves $196M in bonding for school

New London - Anxiety, tension and, at times, confusion hung thick in the air on the third floor of City Hall on Thursday night as the City Council and two of its committees met to take up the proposed ordinance that would authorize roughly $200 million in bonding to fund a school construction project. Ultimately, after some amendments and political maneuvering, the City Council approved two separate ordinances that totaled $196 million in bonding for a project that will complete the facilities portion of the city's transition to an all-magnet school district. "This is one of the greatest days in the city's history," Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio said after Thursday night's   meeting. "I look forward to signing the ordinance tomorrow."The plan will involve renovating as new Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and New London High School, and constructing a building to house a science, technology, engineering and math middle school at the high school campus.
Some facilities of the Garde Arts Center, as part of its own capital improvement plan, also would be expanded and renovated to accommodate an arts magnet high school downtown. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE  

June 26, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 26, 2014

Stamford work sites cited on labor violations

STAMFORD -- A local, state and federal joint operation shut down one construction site and ordered contractors off jobs at two others Wednesday where officials reported finding violations of workplace laws."We visited five projects down there, and coordinated with federal (Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials), Stamford police and the Department of Revenue Services," said Gary Pechie, director of the state Labor Department's Wage and Workplace Standards Division. This is the second time the Stop Fraud unit has swept through Stamford. Last year in January, the group visited the city to check on several sites after seeing a jump in the number of companies misclassifying employees as independent contractors. By classifying them as independent contractors, the companies evade workers' compensation requirements. Other violations over the years include paying workers in cash to avoid taxes and sometimes failing to pay them at all. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newest Danbury school  on track to open

DANBURY -- The parking lot is not yet paved, but the sound of power drills buzzing like a thousand bumblebees suggests that opening day is not far off for the district's newest school, the West Side Middle School Academy. "We're about 94 percent of the way done with the project," said Robert Lezotte, who is serving as owner's representative for the district. The academy will occupy the old Mill Ridge Intermediate School, which was built in 1952 and closed in 2010. But all that's left of the old building is the shell -- the inside has been gutted and rebuilt from floor to ceiling, and a 4,500-square-foot wing was added to house a new media center. When it opens this fall, the building will be home to two programs: One is the 300-student STEM program -- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math -- now housed at Rogers Park Middle School. The other is a new Global Studies program, also expected to enroll about 300 students. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Storrs Center developer raises equity for apartments

The publicly traded Tennessee company closed its stock offering Tuesday, and will use $171 million for two acquisitions and two ongoing developments, including Oaks on The Square apartments in Storrs Center. A spokeswoman for EdR, which is also known as Education Realty Trust, said the third phase of the project — which includes 92 apartments — is set for an August debut. The $45 million fourth phase, which will include 204 apartments, is in the early stages and slated for a 2015 completion. The total number of units after phase four will be 618.
Storrs Center master developer Leyland Alliance LLC, which first recruited EdR in 2010, will develop and own 35,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground level of the development.

Canton Selectman approve street scape project

CANTON — The board of selectmen has approved a design for streetscape improvements in Collinsville, even though the plan is overbudget. The selectmen acted on Wednesday and they authorized town Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner to put the project out to bid. Officials are hoping to get at least some of the work done before this construction season ends.
A $387,000 grant from the state is what the town has to spend on the project. But the architect who is designing the work said what is in it at this point, including changes that the selectmen asked for earlier this month, would cost $421,000. Skinner said once bids are received staff may have a better idea of how to trim the project to bring it under budget. Brian Kent, the architect, said things could be included in the design as options but not done once work starts if there is not enough money.
The state plans on installing a traffic light at the intersection of Main and Bridge streets. Kent said features of that project overlap with what the town plans on doing and that could help lower the cost of the streetscape improvements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Manchester to discuss school construction

MANCHESTER — The board of directors is scheduled to meet Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Lincoln Center to discuss proposed school construction and renovations. The focus of the discussion will be a comparison of costs and other factors associated with building a new Verplanck Elementary School or renovating the school to "like new" condition with an addition. General Manager Scott Shanley said Wednesday that the board is to vote on one option or the other to meet a June 30 deadline on applying for state reimbursement. The meeting continues discussions on a school consolidation and modernization plan that advocates say is a clear alternative to delayed and patchwork repairs that have left many students in inferior learning environments. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction employment increased in 40 states

Construction firms added jobs in 40 states and the District of Columbia over the past 12 months and in 30 states and D.C. between April and May, according to an analysis June 20 by the Associated General Contractors of America of Labor Department data. Association officials said the employment gains help, but that construction employment remains below peak levels in every state and the District of Columbia, except North Dakota.  “With demand for construction growing in most states, many firms are slowly rebuilding their depleted payrolls,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. “But if overall economic growth slows, construction employment could backslide in many states.”  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 25, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 25, 2014

Senate Democrats unveil $9B for highway bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats have unveiled a $9 billion plan to prevent states from facing a cutoff of federal highway construction money as early as this summer.
Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., proposed the measure, which would raise taxes on heavy trucks as part of a plan to keep the U.S. highway fund solvent through the end of the year. Trucks over 97,000 pounds would pay $1,100 a year; the current cap is $550 for vehicles over 75,000 pounds. The measure also tightens reporting requirements for the mortgage interest deduction and toughens the rules for requiring payment of taxes when people under-report income from property sales. "I hope to see the committee take decisive bipartisan action and send a clear message that stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund is a priority now," Wyden said. "Failure to act now could lead to a transportation shutdown, leaving our roads in disrepair and putting thousands of hardworking Americans out of their jobs." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 Earlier this month, Skanska USA and Stamford Health System executives held a topping out ceremony to mark the completion of structural steel framework of a new 11 story specialty building.
A topping out is a celebration of a major construction milestone which involves the installation of a building’s final piece of steel, marking its structural completion. The project, begun in 2012, is scheduled for completion in 2016. So far in the construction project, Skanska has recycled 599 tons or 96 percent of the material taken from the site for the project.
BRISTOL — There’s a growing chance that city voters will get to weigh in on the proposed Depot Square project.
Bristol Downtown Development Corp. officials said Tuesday municipal leaders are eyeing the prospect of a Nov. 4 referendum to determine whether residents are willing to use government money to help fund construction of the first piece of the proposed $280 million project to transform the city center. “If it goes to referendum, I don’t know what happens,” said Jennifer Arasimowicz, chairwoman of the nonprofit created to oversee the revitalization of the 15-acre former mall site across from City Hall. The agency unanimously agreed Tuesday to recommend that city councilors approve a new timetable for the project that Renaissance Downtowns has been working on for the past four years. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Be patient. It’s coming. That was the message from Mayor Erin Stewart about Costco, the warehouse club chain, and the 150,000-square-foot store it plans to build near Hartford Road. 
The Costco issue has been argued and permits applied for and approved through the administrations of three New Britain mayors. “Last Friday, I signed final deeds signing over the last parcels of land from the city to the state in exchange for the land for the [Stanley Municipal] golf course holes,” Stewart said. Three holes will be moved to land in Newington that has been purchased by the City of New Britain.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
BERLIN — As the school year heads down the home stretch, the renovation of Berlin High School will begin to kick into high gear. The school, according to Roman Czuchta, the district’s business manager who also oversees its facilities, will be undergoing continued renovations in several areas this summer. Some of the work pertains to the removal of hazardous materials. “There are hazardous materials, including asbestos and PCBs, that have been identified and will be removed over the course of this summer in the renovation area,” he noted.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Old Lyme - Amtrak is considering replacing the century-old bridge that spans the Connecticut River between the town and Old Saybrook. The Connecticut River Bridge, a 1,500-foot steel rolling lift span structure, is "nearing the end of its useful life," says Amtrak. Amtrak recently completed a study that identified two replacement options for the bridge, but would still need to secure funding for the long-term project estimated at $400 million. Either a new bascule or a vertical lift bridge would replace the current bridge, which began carrying trains over the river in 1907, according to Amtrak. Today, Amtrak and Shore Line East passenger cars, as well as P&W freight trains, traverse the bridge. The time frame for construction of a new bridge could be 2018 to 2021. The Connecticut River Bridge would be Amtrak's latest in a series of bridge replacement projects in the region. Amtrak replaced the Thames River Bridge between Groton and New London in 2008 and the Niantic River Bridge between Waterford and East Lyme last year.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hundreds of CT bridges rated deficient

 Washington – The Walk Bridge in Norwalk is not the only bridge in Connecticut that has problems by far. The percentage of all bridges in poor condition has been climbing since 2006.
According to the Federal Highway Administration’s national bridge inventory, nearly one in every 10 bridges in the state has been deemed structurally deficient, meaning 413 of the state’s 4,218 bridges in the inventory were deficient in 2013. In addition, nearly one in four Connecticut bridges was deemed “functionally obsolete.” That means they are outdated and do not meet current standards required of new bridges. A structurally deficient bridge isn’t unsafe, but at least one or more of it’s major components are deemed to be in poor condition. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

PCB removal described

KENT — Northwest Corner residents turned out Tuesday evening to hear the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's latest plan for General Electric to remove PCB contamination from the Housatonic River. PCBs, a man-made substance classified as a carcinogen by the EPA, were legally dumped into the river by General Electric at its former transformer plant in Pittsfield, Mass., from 1932 to 1977, when they were outlawed. More than 30 residents turned out to hear about the proposed permit, which would involve removal of sediment and capping portions of the riverbed and banks in Massachusetts. No removal would be done along the river in Connecticut, only monitoring.
GE would be required to monitor both the sediment and the levels in the tissues of the fish. The entire project is expected to take 13 years and the estimated cost is $613 million. It is a long process that could be further delayed by appeals. "In general, it could be three to five years before any remediation could start," said Bob Cianciarulo, the EPA's Region 1 chief of the Massachusetts Superfund Section. Comments are being collected beginning today through Aug. 8. EPA speakers said they expect an extension will be requested. A hearing for the public has yet to be scheduled.
Several people asked about earlier proposals that were focused on keeping the sediment in place. It was later determined that the contaminated sediment needed to be removed and capped.
The risk assessment showed that it is safe to be in the water for passive recreation such as swimming and boating. However, there are areas in Massachusetts where direct contact with the polluted sediment is not safe, Dean Tagliaferro, EPA's project manager on the cleanup effort, said.
"Direct contact to floodplain soil is an unacceptable health risk," Tagliaferro said about areas in Massachusetts. Cianciarulo said that in general one foot of sediment is being removed in most places. The riverbed will then be capped with natural materials and a chemical isolation layer.
He said the EPA is trying to balance protection of wildlife with the restorative work that needs to happen. The levels of pollution in fish continue to remain too high for them to be eaten in either state.
However, data suggests that the PCB levels in fish has leveled off in Connecticut, Cianciarulo said.
"One of the big goals with this remediation is the increased consumption of fish," he said.
Kent resident Elaine LaBella of the Housatonic Valley Association said she was concerned that the EPA was not looking far enough into the future. "This is our one and only opportunity to get the PCBs out of the river," she said. "The plan seems very short-sighted."
All the documents and reports can be found at www.epa.gov/region1/ge/thesite/restofriver.html, and public comments can be submitted there.

June 24, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 24, 2014

Soil remediation has begun

Soil remediation is underway at Greenwich High School, kicking off a multi-year project to clean up areas on the Hillside Road campus where toxins have been found in recent years.
This summer's work will focus on the southern end of the school's grounds, which contain arsenic, benzo(a)pyrene, which is believed to be carcinogenic, and pesticides. It will include removal of vegetation for the work, soil testing, soil excavation and replacement, and the construction of an area for contractor access from East Putnam Avenue.  EQ Northeast, a Wrentham, Mass.-based company specializing in cleanup and transportation of hazardous waste, will carry out the work. It will be supervised by AECOM, a consulting firm working with the town's Department of Public Works. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are overseeing the work. Public Works' 2014-15 budget includes $3.7 million for the cleanup. Town officials estimate the total bill for the work at the school will range between $13 million and $17 million.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Litchfield Crossings comes to life

NEW MILFORD -- Litchfield Crossings, once planned to be the jewel at the entrance to New Milford, is striving to live up to that reputation. The long-stalled shopping plaza at 169 Danbury Road (Route 7) is under the new ownership of ECCO Development, and eight new retailers and restaurants have been announced as coming to the site. Construction on Panera Bread restaurant has resumed. Petco, Famous Footwear, and GNC all are under construction at this time.
Sleepy's and Harvest Field Market are signing leases in coming weeks, and Ninety Nine restaurant and Jake's WayBack restaurant have sent letters of intent. Litchfield Crossings, which has some 1,800 feet of frontage on Danbury Road, is the site of 127,136 square feet of retail space, including Big Lots, Kohl's, HomeGoods, Union Savings Bank, Western Connecticut Medical Group, an AT&T mobility store and Webster Bank. Upon completion, the plaza is expected to include 282,000 square feet of retail space. ECCO Development, owned by the Gizzi family, took over the 41-acre plaza in October 2013 from Danbury Road Developers under the limited liability partnership of Litchfield Crossings. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Groton school board approves building plan

Groton – The Board of Education approved a construction plan tonight as a way to address the needs of the town’s aging schools and to help solve the racial imbalance at Claude Chester Elementary School. The proposed building plan would construct one new middle school for grades 6 to 8, as close as possible to Robert E. Fitch High School, and would convert Cutler and West Side middle schools into elementary schools for students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Pleasant Valley, S.B. Butler and Claude Chester elementary schools would close. The three elementary schools were built more than 70 years ago. The plan goes goes to the School Facilities Task Force to determine whether it’s feasible and how much it would cost. The proposal would then return to the school board for a final vote before going to the town council, Representative Town Meeting and a referendum for final approval. School board Chairwoman Rita Volkmann, who cast the sole opposing vote, said she wanted the middle school to be adjacent to the high school. But she added, “I’m happy that this is finally moving forward.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 23, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 23, 2014

Danbury hospital opens new $150M addition

DANBURY -- Danbury Hospital opened its largest and most expensive addition Friday, funded in part by an unprecedented $30 million gift from city resident Peter Buck.
The $150 million addition, named the Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Pavilion in honor of Buck and his late wife, is an 11-story, sleekly modern structure connected to the existing Tower Building.
Buck, the 83-year-old founder of the Subway sandwich chain, chuckled Friday when asked about the new building."So far, so good," he said. "It's beautiful."Buck said people have asked him why he's been so generous to the hospital. "Because I live here," he said. "Where else am I going to contribute?" Dr. John Murphy, the president and chief executive officer of Western Connecticut Health Network -- the umbrella group that manages Danbury, New Milford and Norwalk hospitals -- said the network had 12 donors who each gave more than $1 million to the project. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

$200M in bonding, $100,000 bid on agenda Monday for New London committees

New London - The City Council Chambers on the third floor of City Hall will be a busy venue Monday night. Though the full council will not meet, some of its committees will convene to tackle weighty issues facing the city: a proposal to bond more than $200 million to fund a school construction project, a resolution to designate almost $1 million for Riverside Park improvements, and what to do about the $100,000 bid for the Lighthouse Inn. First, at 5:30 p.m., the council's Finance Committee and Education, Parks and Recreation committees will hold a joint meeting to discuss the bonding ordinance. "My committee will be dealing with the financial bonding package, to take a look at the bonding and be able to hopefully pass it on to the full council," Wade A. Hyslop, the council's president and chairman of the Finance Committee, said earlier this week. "Hopefully all of it will be vetted and then any questions that come up can be answered." Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio announced the project and its associated costs June 13 and said the council will have to approve it by June 30 in order to "lock in" funding commitments from the state. The project, which would complete the facilities portion of the city's transition to an all-magnet school district, would involve renovating as new Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and New London High School, and constructing a building to house a science, technology, engineering and math middle school at the high school campus. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Cleanup at Higganum Cove in Haddam to begin this summer

HADDAM — The federal Environmental Protection Agency says it will begin cleaning up a 20-year-old Superfund site near the Connecticut River where officials envision a park with hiking trails and a kayak launch.
The 12-acre Higganum Cove property, beside a scenic waterfall, has been included on a list of Connecticut Superfund sites awaiting cleanup since 1989 because of the presence of PCBs, lead, and arsenic "at levels of concern to human health and the environment."
The cleanup is expected to begin in July. Officials from the EPA and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have scheduled a meeting on the project July 8, at 6:30 p.m. at town hall on Field Park Drive.

June 20, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 20, 2014

Southington approves $20M recycling plant

SOUTHINGTON — Construction could start this fall for a $20 million, high-tech recycling plant that will turn food waste into gas for energy and yard waste into compost.
Both by-products would be used to grow lettuce and other produce in greenhouses on the land.
The project, a joint venture of Covanta Energy and Turning Earth LLC, won site plan approval Tuesday night from the town planning and zoning commission. The facility is planned for a 37-acre parcel off Spring Street not far from the junction with Queen Street. "We feel this is the best and highest use of this property," Economic Development Coordinator Louis A. Perillo III said
Groundbreaking is expected in October, with the project's backers aiming to open the facility in 2015. It will process 50,000 tons of food waste and 25,000 tons of yard waste to be collected from 14 to 16 central Connecticut cities and towns, including Southington.
The facility will have fewer than a dozen employees but will generate an estimated $330,000 in tax revenue once tax abatements awarded to the project through state programs end, Perillo said. Thursday.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Guilford gives conditional OK for design of the rock pile

GUILFORD >> After reviewing modified plans from DDR Corp. to develop the “rock pile,” the Design Review Committee on Wednesday conditionally approved the design, citing improvements made since the initial proposal was presented last week.
At last week’s meeting, committee members seemed largely pleased with the proposed 135,000 square-foot shopping center at Guilford Commons, but suggested changes that included modifying the “cookie-cutter design” that some members said permeated the plan.
“We took everything you said sort of as constructive criticism and we think we’ve come back with answers to some of the challenges you presented us with,” architect Frankie Campione told the committee Wednesday. Campione presented changes to the plan that would improve the shopping center’s appearance from Interstate 95, construct a pedestrian walkway in the complex and change the appearance of some of the retail spaces.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 19, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 19, 2014

Longfellow demolition makes way for new school

BRIDGEPORT -- Ground-breaking events are a dime a dozen, but seldom do city officials gather for a school's demolition. An exception was made Wednesday for Longfellow School, which after two years of work to rid it of contaminants, is being torn down and replaced with a $51 million school building. The new school, set to open in 2016 on the same spot at 136 Ocean Terrace, can't come soon enough for Lataysha Hester, who lives a block from Longfellow, but whose four children are now forced to board buses to attend school across town at Columbus School and Columbus Annex. "Definitely -- we can't wait," Hester said. She went to Longfellow herself, back when the late Jettie Tisdale was principal. Tisdale's name was evoked repeatedly during the ceremony by interim Schools Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz, Mayor Bill Finch and others. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Stamford school purchase gains support

STAMFORD -- After some qualms about a lack of specifics on enrollment and overcrowding in schools, a joint committee of the Board of Representatives voted quickly and unanimously to approve spending up to $65 million to acquire, modernize and expand a former all-girls Catholic school on the outskirts of downtown. The full Board of Representatives is expected to vote Wednesday on a fast-track proposal to purchase the 11-acre former Sacred Heart Academy property for up to $10 million. The board is also being asked to approve another $55 million appropriation for renovations and possible expansion of the 1928 building to accommodate more than 800 students.  "The city is growing, the elementary population is growing and we need eventually to have a school," Martin told members of the joint Committee of the Whole. "I want to build a school that is close in to the downtown area, and this is a unique opportunity." A year's delay in applying for state reimbursement to establish a public school at the former Sacred Heart campus might affect said funding for a portion of the cost, Martin said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Brookfield Village developers seek zone change

BROOKFIELD -- Come October, if all goes well, the Four Corners' flagship mixed-use project, on which the revitalization of the business district hinges, will break ground and construction to be well underway within a year, according to the town's chief executive. The Brookfield Village project, one approved last year for the center of the district on Federal Road and adjacent Station Road, just a short ways from the Four Corners intersection, would be the first mixed-use development conceived as part of the effort to transform this area into a pedestrian-friendly, commercial destination.
First Selectman Bill Tinsley is one of the project's biggest cheerleaders, envisioning the possibility that the success of this complex of 21,000 square feet of stores, restaurants and 79 apartments priced for young professionals and retirees will be contagious.  The development firm, Unicorn Contracting in Garrison, N.Y., envisions the construction to take place in phases over a two-year period. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Regions water system getting a boost

Waterford - Regional town and water authority leaders on Wednesday morning officially broke ground on the final stage of a project they said will ensure uninterrupted water supply for the foreseeable future. The final phase of the project, constructing a new intake pump in Lake Konomoc, will allow the water authority to draw an additional 366 million gallons of water from deep within the reservoir off Route 85 in Waterford. It will also create, in effect, a backup to the current pump system. "When finished, we will be able to access millions of gallons of drinking water that is already here but currently unattainable," said Barry Weiner, chairman of the Water & Water Pollution Control Authority. "As the demand for water increases and it is much harder to get, we will be able to pump that water efficiently and economically well into the future." Already, the water authority has completed the installation of a 2,200 foot intake pipe that reaches about 35 feet deeper into the lake than the current one. "This will allow us to access water at a lower level in the event that the lake water level is lower," said Joseph Lanzafame, New London's director of public utilities. "The concern about running out of water to serve our communities kind of goes away with this project." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Murphy, Corker call for 12-cents gas tax boost for highway bill

Sens. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are proposing a 12-cent increase in the gas tax to pay for a renewal of highway and transit programs, which could run out of funding by the end of the month. “Reaction on the Democratic side has been positive,” said Murphy, who noted he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about the plan. “I think on our side of the aisle we recognize that it’s time to stop talking theoretically and start talking really in practical terms,” Murphy said, adding that bipartisan support is key to getting the plan through the chamber. But it’s unclear if a substantial number of the Republican Conference will embrace the idea. “We will see,” Corker said when asked how his GOP colleagues would react. One big GOP selling point was that the tax increase would not violate the Americans for Tax Reform pledge if it is paired with a provision making some popular tax breaks that are typically part of the tax extenders package permanent. According to Corker, the list of tax breaks includes: the research and development tax credit; Section 179 expensing, a tax break encouraging small businesses to by business equipment; the deduction of state and local sale taxes; the deduction of up to $250 in classroom expenses that teachers paid for out of their own pocket; a subsidy for mass transit and benefits given for land donated for conservation purposes.
“If you just took those, we do them each year, but you make them permanent; I don’t think there is anybody that disputes making those permanent, by the way, that alone would generate $189 billion in savings over the next 10 years,” Corker said. “So if the Finance Committee chose to link this … with that … you would not be violating the pledge.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 18, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 18, 2014

Developers show interest in city owned Meriden sites

MERIDEN — Representatives of development firms took a tour of downtown Meriden Tuesday to learn about infrastructure projects the city has been working on and specifically about the nine properties the city is looking to sell to private investors. The city-owned parcels are being advertised with the hope of finding CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Sewer bids come in over budget

DEEP RIVER - When the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) opened bids last week for construction of the planned sewer extension project, it found all six bids exceeded the $4 million approved for the project. First Selectman Dick Smith told the Board of Selectmen the authority would meet with the project engineers "to take a look at possible savings." Smith said, "We were very surprised." The low bidder was Baltazar Contractors, Inc., of Ludlow, Massachusetts, with a base bid of $4,828,958. The bid climbed to $5,507,658 if all the options were added in. Smith said he and the authority would ask Cardinal Engineering to review all the engineering plans, consider possible savings options, and talk with the contractors. The firm would then make recommendations to the WPCA. "We will let them come back with options and ideas. The authority will come back to the Board of Selectmen with a recommendation, and we'll make a decision from there," Smith explained. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

$200M school bonding plan in New London

 New London - The City Council on Monday night passed to its committees the proposal to bond more than $200 million to fund a school construction project that would complete the city's transition to an all-magnet school district. Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio rolled out the bonding ordinance - which, after state reimbursements, would cost the city roughly $34 million - at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday and said the council will have to approve it by June 30 in order to "lock in" funding commitments from the state. The City Council's Finance Committee and its Education, Parks and Recreation Committee will review the plan during a joint meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, according to the committee chairmen. "My committee will be dealing with the financial bonding package, to take a look at the bonding and be able to hopefully pass it on to the full council," said Wade A. Hyslop, the council's president and chairman of the Finance Committee. "Hopefully all of it will be vetted and then any question that come up can be answered." Councilor Anthony Nolan, who is chairman of the Education, Parks and Recreation Committee, said he wants the issue to get a full public airing before the City Council takes a vote on it. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 I-84 Viaduct job will be a 5 -year job atleast

 HARTFORD — Replacing the well-worn I-84 viaduct through Hartford won't be done anytime soon, but count on construction to be extensive – and very, very long – when it happens. "It would be a minimum of five years to construct," traffic engineer Mike Morehouse said at a forum Tuesday evening at the Hartford Public Library. Don't expect to see much activity for quite a while; there are still years worth of engineering studies, design work and environmental reviews ahead. But when the bulldozers and jackhammers finally show up, Greater Hartford motorists can settle in for many seasons of construction. "This is the largest public works project in the state, and it's going to be massively expensive," Morehouse told about 75 residents and workers from around the region. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wethersfield council sets aside money to repair school parking lot

WETHERSFIELD — The town council appropriated $317,000 on Monday to repave the dilapidated parking lot at Highcrest Elementary School this summer, even as one member objected to the funding method. A storm drain recently collapsed in the lot, highlighting its deteriorating condition, Town Manager Jeff Bridges told council members. "The parking lot's trashed," Bridges said. "It's the worst one we have." In addition to the lot, contractor General Paving & Construction will repave play areas, pushing the project $17,000 over budget. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bradley will start demo of terminal B in August

In the next year and a half, the second terminal at Bradley International Airport will be carefully disassembled, removing from sight the long-closed facility that many have called an eyesore on the gateway to New England. Kevin A. Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said his agency is sifting through contractor bids for the $20 million job that is expected to start in early August and take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to complete. "It has a pretty storied history," Dillon said. The terminal opened in 1952 and closed in 2010. "But unfortunately as many buildings find themselves it simply could not evolve with the changes of the airline and airport industry. It outlived its usefulness," Dillon said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

North Haven residents approve "like new" middle school project\

NORTH HAVEN >> The polls were busy Tuesday night as residents voted on renovations for a $69 million “like-new” middle school.  The final votes came in with 2139 in favor of and 705 against a new school. Residents filed in to vote minutes before the polls closed.  Committee Chairman Gary Johns was pleased with the results. “We’re very happy about the confidence the town has put in us to pass this. We’ll be working very hard to make it happen,” Johns said.  Renovations will include construction of a new classroom wing while maintaining other school facilities. Changes to the school include a two-story academic wing, 450-seat auditorium, 350-seat gymnasium, cafeteria, library and parking lot. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New campaign aims at getting transportation investment votes

A new website and social media campaign launched by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) provides members of Congress with plenty of sound bites to support their vote later this year to provide a sustainable, long-term revenue stream for future highway and transit investments through the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). TMAW.ORG, the website for the group's “Transportation Makes America Work!” (TMAW) advocacy communications program, features infographics that show the value of transportation infrastructure investment and its impact on health and safety, children, family budgets, American quality of life and the economy.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 17, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 17, 2014

Mill River Collaborative gets $3M in Sandy Funds

STAMFORD -- The Mill River Collaborative received the lion's share of Connecticut's nearly $8 million in federal Superstorm Sandy grants to build another stretch of greenway from Main Street to Richmond Hill and Greenwich avenues and decrease downtown flood risks.  The collaborative received about $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Hurricane Sandy Resilience Grant Program. The program, administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Service, awarded nearly $103 million in grants to projects in 11 states to help fortify coastal areas against storms like Sandy in October 2012. The collaborative pledged $6.8 million in matching funds to secure the federal funding.  Milton Puryear, executive director of the Mill River Collaborative, said the work will involve excavating an additional 40-foot strip of land on the east side of the southern stretch of the Rippowam River, known as the Mill River Corridor, raising the 100-year-flood stage for properties on Clinton and Greenwich avenues and protecting them when the river overruns its banks. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

North Stonington push for $40.5M school plan

North Stonington - Town officials made a final pitch Monday for a long discussed, and now whittled down, multimillion-dollar school improvement project in anticipation of next week's referendum vote. Voters will be asked on June 23 to vote on a $40.5 million project that revamps the elementary, middle and high school, adding space, bringing buildings up to code and addressing security, technology, environmental problems such as PCBs in window caulk, structural cracks in the walls and generally outdated facilities. Finance board Chairman Dan Spring, among other proponents, said he viewed the project as long overdue and designed to address issues that have built up through years of minimal budget gains. Spring said the time is ripe considering the town's excellent bond rating, historic low interest rates and generous reimbursement being offered by the state. "If not now, when?" Spring asked. Residents will be voting on a project that was reduced in size from the $47.5 million project rejected by voters at a referendum in May. The project has a guaranteed state reimbursement rate of $14.65 million, making the town's share about $25.8 million or as low as $22.4 million if the town can secure waivers for certain elements of the project. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Plainville road work to make schools safer

PLAINVILLE — The town middle school and Toffolon Elementary, near each other on busy Northwest Drive, should be safer places for pedestrains because of a $457,305 project this summer to slow traffic near both schools. The work — 100 percent financed by a federal Safe Routes To School grant — will add speed tables to the road, raise and improve sidewalks and add a center median between the driveways of both schools, town engineer John Bossi said Monday.
"The purpose is to slow traffic and make it safer for people to walk," he said. "Speed tables [large, flat-topped speed bumps] will slow vehicles, while the center median will cause motorists to slow down when entering the driveways of the schools." Work will begin about June 23 and is slated to be done by Aug. 15, a few weeks before students return to school from summer vacation. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wallingford residents question new train station

WALLINGFORD >> Although the New Haven to Springfield, Massachusetts, commuter rail plan is just 2½ years away from going into service, town residents still are troubled with where the state Department of Transportation plans to put the new station. Construction of the new station is schedule to begin in September. But the sentiment of the majority of the three-dozen residents who attended an informational meeting at the Wallingford Public Library Monday night is that the location of the station causes more problems than it solves. The new station will be located off Parker Street, north of the current Amtrak station. Resident reiterated comments they have made to state DOT officials in the past: The location is too far from the center of town to promote meaningful economic development and will create a traffic nightmare at the nearby busy intersection of Parker Street and Route 5. “It’s going to be a disaster for residents and for the people who operate the trains,” said Lucille Casagrande, a local real estate agent. “It’s not going to have the economic impact the town wants and for the people who operate the trains, it’s not going to produce the ridership you’re looking for. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

North Haven residents vote on middle school plan

From 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, residents can vote on a proposal for a “hybrid, like-new” middle school, the town’s second referendum in a month. Residents last month headed to the polls and passed an $88.8 million budget 1020-286.  Voting will take place at the Recreation Center on 7 Linsley St. Renovations would include construction of a new classroom wing while maintaining other school facilities. hanges to the school include a two-story academic wing, a 450-seat auditorium, 350-seat gymnasium, cafeteria, library and parking lot, according to town documents. Anita Anderson, chairwoman of the Board of Education, said if the plan passes many will see its benefits.
“A renovated middle school will not only help the teaching and learning environment for our teachers and students, but will be a great benefit for the town,” Anderson said.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 16, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 16, 2014

Hydro power project at Meriden's Hanover Pond moving forward

MERIDEN — The hydropower project proposed for the Hanover Pond dam could be the first of its kind in the country. Municipal, state and federal agencies are reviewing plans for the initiative, which could present cost savings and bring a green technology to Meriden. New England Hydropower Co., based in Massachusetts, would install equipment at the dam that would generate 750,000 kilowatts of electricity annually and save the city close to $20,000 a year in power costs and property taxes over a 20-year period, according to Stephen Montemurro, chairman of the city’s Energy Task Force.“For a piece of property that is doing nothing right now, this is a great opportunity for us,” said Montemurro, who is also the city’s management and information systems director. The Planning Commission unanimously supported the use of the property next to the dam, which is city-owned, at Wednesday night’s meeting. The project would need approval from numerous agencies, including the Inland Wetland and Watercourse Commission, Planning Commission, the Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and fishery groups. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT healthcare construction most active in New England

Ongoing and upcoming hospital and medical office building construction projects this year have a total construction value of $1.76 billion, the Maryland-based healthcare construction data provider said. That's ahead of Massachusetts' $1.15 billion worth of ongoing and upcoming projects, as well as Maine's $337 million and New Hampshire's $124 million, Revista said.
Leading the way in Connecticut is the $450 million replacement of Stamford Hospital, which broke ground last year. Next up is UConn Health Center's patient tower and $203 million outpatient pavilion, and John Dempsey Hospital's $163 million expansion — all in Farmington.
Revista, tracks the construction and renovation of hospitals and medical office buildings generally worth $5 million or more, according to Partner Mike Hargrave.

I-84 Viaduct Job: A maze of complexity

Early estimates suggest that replacing the I-84 viaduct through Hartford could cost $3 billion to $5 billion — and covering that bill would be just one piece of a monumentally complex job.
Constructing a new highway at ground level would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the capital city, urban planners say. The public is invited June 17 to a state transportation department forum where engineers will talk about options for replacing the half-century-old viaduct and discuss the job's unique challenges. Neighborhood groups are eager to get rid of the noisy, rumbling overpass that cuts the city in half. But rebuilding it at ground level or lower is no mere paving job: It would require orchestrating relocation of Amtrak's rail line and the new busway, while merging new exit and entrance ramps into downtown's already jam-packed street grid. All of that would have to be woven as seamlessly as possible into the iQuilt network of pedestrian walkways and plazas, and without harming downtown businesses, historic Bushnell Park or the "Complete Streets" initiative of sidewalks and bike paths, the DOT says. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Site plans for $20M Southington recycling plant up for review on Tuesday

SOUTHINGTON — A site plan for a proposed $20 million recycling plant will be reviewed Tuesday by the planning and zoning commission, which two weeks ago approved a special permit to allow the use of a 37-acre parcel off Spring Street. "The site plan is the next step in our application process with the town," Amy Kessler, executive vice president and head of legal and regulatory affairs for Turning Earth LLC, Pennsylvania organic recycling company that proposed the $20 million facility. Its partner in the plan is Covanta, a trash-to-energy waste management company.
The site plan will give designs and details of the proposed plant. It will process about 50,000 tons of food-waste to turn into biogas to use for heating and energy and compost about 25,000 tons of yard waste to turn into high-grade soil supplements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Neglected bridge makes deferred maintenance a losing bet

The faltering rail bridge in Norwalk poses a political and transportation crisis for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, whose only immediate salvation is winning an intense, multi-state competition for federal transit funds that could expedite the bridge's long-delayed replacement.
Connecticut is now competing with a dozen states and even Metro-North's parent, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for a share of a $3 billion Federal Transit Administration fund created by Congress in the 2012 Hurricane Sandy relief bill. To replace the bridge, the state is seeking $349 million, more than 10 percent of the entire fund. If the application fails, there is no other ready funding source for a project estimated to cost $465 million in state and federal funding. By making replacement of an 118-year-old bridge a second-term funding priority, Malloy took a gamble won by other governors, but not him. Twice in recent weeks, the mechanical swing bridge opened for marine traffic and failed to close, interrupting Metro-North and Amtrak service for hours at a time. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 13, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 13, 2014

Could tolls end the I-95 traffic nightmare

Highway tolls are again being discussed in Connecticut as part of an 18-month study conducted by the state Department of Transportation. It's got road planners asking an interesting question, can one type of toll actually reduce traffic? It's called congestion pricing. "The idea is that when it's very congested, when there's lots of demand, the price goes up in order to encourage some number of drivers to either postpone their trip, carpool, or figure out some way to not be on the lanes at that very expensive time," said Asha Weinstein Agrawal, a transportation scholar at San José State University.
Weinstein Agrawal said the idea hinges on giving drivers a choice. For example, travel on a highway for free during "off-peak" hours or pay a toll during rush hour to travel in a less-jammed-up "express" lane. "The way congestion builds up on the road, you don't actually have to get everybody off to remove the congestion. There's usually a fairly small tipping point," she said.
That tipping point is hard to quantify, but it's pretty small. Some say around 5 percent of total traffic. And diverting that percentage of drivers could make a big difference in Connecticut. Take, for example, the I-95 corridor from New York to New Haven. According to the state Department of Transportation, congestion increased there by 19 percent between 2001 and 2011.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer unveils plans for Guilford Commons

GUILFORD >> In the most recent attempt to spur development at the “rock pile,” representatives from DDR Corp. presented plans before the Design Review Committee on Wednesday to build a 135,000-square-foot shopping center at the Guilford Commons site on the west end of town.  The presentation comes more than six years after the town initially approved an application from the Ohio-based company to build a retail center on the 26-acre property at 1919 Boston Post Road.
That project stalled after a weak economy caused many potential tenants to lose interest in the retail center.  Since the initial plan fell through, other projects — including one to build a Costco — have been discussed for the site, but none of those materialized. “It’s been a rather long hibernation period and we’re very excited to start the process again with the town,” John Knuff, an attorney representing DDR, said during Wednesday’s meeting at the Nathanael B. Greene Community Center.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

'Walkable' village underway in East Hampton

.Dream Developers of East Hampton broke ground Wednesday for five, two-story buildings, each with eight garden-style apartments, and a separate two-story building with 18,000 square feet of office-retail space. Edgewater Hill is adjacent to the Laurel Ridge subdivision and fronts the east side of the town's Route 66 commercial corridor. Condominiums, single-family houses and more commercial space will come later, Dream Developers co-owner Steve Motto said.
In all, Edgewater eventually will encompass more than 200 dwellings and 80,000 square feet of commercial space, Motto said. The project's buildout pricetag was unavailable.
"It's finally here," Motto said. "It was a dream of ours to make a vibrant, walkable community work for the town of East Hampton.'' Town planner-architect Patrick Pinnell, of Goman + York Property Advisors in East Hartford, designed key elements of Edgewater Hill. Pinnell is renowned for his embrace of "new urbanism,'' a planning concept in which housing, retail, offices and green spaces are unified into a pedestrian-friendly "village.'' CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CROG's message about CTfastrak: All Aboard

In a trip less smooth or quick than what they will expect next year, several dozen central Connecticut community leaders took their first bus ride Thursday afternoon on CTfastrak. Business executives and local officials from Hartford, Newington, New Britain and West Hartford toured the rapid transit busway, a $567 million project that they hope will spur housing growth, business development and new jobs along its 9.4-mile route. The busway is still 10 months from opening, the landscaping and fences are only partly completed, and a few stretches of the roadbed are still just dirt or gravel. But tour cruised along on several miles of fresh pavement, passing new platforms and silver-and-green stations. "The physical progress is amazing," said Lyle Wray, executive director of the Capitol Region Council of Governments, which organized the trip. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CRDA upgrades XL's Center's Embarrassing Conditions

HARTFORD — It's tough to argue with UConn basketball Coach Geno Auriemma's observations Wednesday that the city's XL Center needs work — a lot of work — to make it a worthy off-campus home court of the country's two top college basketball programs. Michael W. Freimuth, chief executive of the Capital Region Development Authority, doesn't even try. "He's absolutely right, this building needs to get with it," Freimuth said. "We need this building to be a 2015 smart structure. That is unquestionably correct." Freimuth said $35 million in state-funded upgrades are now underway and expected to be largely completed by October. And, on Friday, the CRDA, which oversees operations at XL, will begin seeking a consultant to determine if the existing facility on Trumbull Street can be transformed in the future into a next-generation venue or whether the best option would be to build a new arena.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Norwalk bridge to remain closed? Depends on who's talking

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., announced Thursday that a mechanical swing bridge in Norwalk would remain in the closed position indefinitely, providing reliable passage for Metro-North commuter trains while interrupting marine traffic on the Norwalk River.
But the Connecticut Department of Transportation contradicted the statement hours later, saying the state was continuing to study the best approach to handling a bridge that became stuck in the open position twice in recent weeks, disrupting the busy New Haven rail line. According to ConnDOT, the bridge would not necessarily remain in the closed position. "Any openings of the bridge for marine traffic will be done using a manual method to ensure that everything works properly," said Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman. Blumenthal's announcement, which was based on a written advisory from the Coast Guard that called the bridge "inoperable," caught the DOT and the Malloy administration by surprise on two counts: It broke the news of a state bridge closing and suggested that the DOT had settled on short-term repairs to fix a 118-year-old bridge slated for replacement.
"Connecticut is working with the Coast Guard and Metro-North Railroad to coordinate the best approach to short- and long-term repairs to the Walk railroad bridge in Norwalk," Everhart said. "We have assembled a team to come up with design plans for short-term repairs within 30 days." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 12, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 12, 2014

Industry adds 6000 jobs in May

Construction employers added 6,000 workers to payrolls in May as the industry's unemployment rate dropped to 8.6 percent, its lowest May level in six years, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. However, association officials cautioned that gains remain spotty and that thousands of highway construction jobs are at risk because of a pending halt in federal transportation funding later this summer. “Even with five straight months of construction employment gains, the industry remains vulnerable to sudden shifts in demand,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Should Washington allow federal highway funding to come to a halt as predicted later this summer, the sudden loss of billions of dollars worth of demand would cost many construction workers, as well as workers from other segments of the economy, their jobs.” Construction employment totaled six million in May, the highest total since June 2009 and an increase of 188,000 or 3.2 percent from a year earlier, Simonson noted. Residential construction employers added 3,300 jobs in May and 105,600 (4.9 percent) over 12 months. Nonresidential construction firms added 2,700 employees since April and 82,000 (2.2 percent) since May 2013. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer unveils look of $300M 'regional shopping center' in South Norwalk

NORWALK — General Growth Properties, Inc., (GGP) will put forward for approval a 700,000-square-foot regional retail center for the last dozen acres of Norwalk’s Reed Putnam Urban Renewal area, otherwise known as the 95/7 site. On Monday, GGP representatives showed The Hour drawings of the proposed complex, which they say will not be a traditional, fortress-like mall, but rather a retail center that will reach out to surrounding parts of Norwalk. “We’re not trying to turn our backs on the surrounding areas. We’re not trying to bring in tons of local restaurants that could compete — that competition is already coming from the surrounding towns. We want to help this area,” said Douglas T. Adams, GGP’s senior director. “In terms of a net benefit, we’re going to draw a million people a month.”

Center street bridge project will mean traffic headaches

WALLINGFORD — A century old bridge spanning Wharton Brook on Center Street, or Route 150, has “exceeded its useful life,” according to the state Department of Transportation, and will be replaced. The project is expected to cause traffic delays and disruption to nearby businesses well into 2017.  The bridge, built in 1914, is next to the Vinny’s Deli parking lot at 567 Center St. Vinny Ianuzzi, the deli’s owner, was the only adjacent property owner to attend a meeting last week with state officials. “We definitely have concerns,” Ianuzzi said.  Route 150 is a state road, therefore the state is responsible for maintenance of the bridge. The purpose of the project, according to the meeting notice sent to nearby property owners, is to “replace the structure to meet current design standards.”  DOT officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The project includes replacing the bridge with a concrete deck and steel girder structure supported by concrete pillars. The $3.9 million state-funded project is expected to completed by late 2017. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Gravestone uncovered at Meriden HUB site

MERIDEN — Contractors interested in redeveloping the Hub site were warned that not everything buried below the 14-acre parcel was known. Because the site has seen many different uses through the years, there would likely be brick, stone and concrete to uncover, in addition to old piping from streets abandoned long ago. Although he knew some element of surprise was possible, LaRosa Construction co-owner Joseph LaRosa was stunned to see a gravestone when he visited the site last week. “It’s unbelievable,” he said, noting that most of what has been uncovered so far is rock, concrete and brick. “We’re pretty sure no one was ever buried there, but it’s a mystery.”
Not much taller than a foot, the marble gravestone bears the name of Josie Viola Hubbard who was born Feb. 12, 1883 and died just three years and two months later on April 11, 1886, according to the stone. Along with Josie’s name are the initials of her parents: F.E. and D.L. Hubbard. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Waterford — A developer is seeking to build a 90-unit income- and age-restricted apartment complex on an 11-acre Boston Post Road lot that formerly held a drive-in theater. The Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting Monday officially received a site plan application from Berlin-based Waterford Development Associates LLC. The proposed development would be located at 105 Boston Post Road, adjacent to the Stop and Shop grocery store. The Boston Post Road lot has been vacant for roughly 30 years, according to Assistant Town Clerk Janet Hanney. Since the property became vacant, at least four developments have been proposed there. aterford Development Manager Cheryl Daniw said the location is ideal because of its proximity to shopping and bus routes. Daniw would take on the role of property manager should the proposal garner all of the required approvals.
"If I have a tenant, I don't want them to be there only one year and then have to leave. I'd like to see them make it their home," she said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 $200M,100-store center proposed for West Haven

 WEST HAVEN >> Two developers with a track record of success are looking to build a $200 million “high-end” shopping center with 100 outlet stores, six restaurants and, in its second phase, a hotel and possibly apartments on the West River Crossing site the city has spent two decades trying to get off the ground. The 347,826-square-foot waterfront development — the biggest taxable thing proposed for West Haven in decades — would be called “The Haven” and would be aimed at an affluent market that extends well beyond West Haven’s borders, its developers said Tuesday.
The Haven would create more than 1,200 entry-, mid- and executive-level jobs — plus hundreds of construction jobs — and generate more than $3 million in annual tax revenue for the city, said Mayor Ed O’Brien. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction spending rises modestly in April

Total construction spending rose modestly for the third straight month in April as a mix of increases and declines in public and private categories showed the sector's recovery remains fragile and fragmented, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials said the industry could benefit from new federal investments in infrastructure to offset declining public sector demand. “Residential, private nonresidential and public construction spending all have areas of strength but also pockets of weakness,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “While the overall trend remains more positive than last year, growth is likely to be spotty for the foreseeable future.” Construction put in place totaled $954 billion in April, 0.2 percent above the revised February total and 8.6 percent higher than in April 2013. The year-over-year growth so far in 2014 has exceeded the full-year increase of 5.0 percent recorded from 2012 to 2013. Private residential construction spending inched up 0.1 percent in April to a six-year high. The latest total exceeded the year-ago level by 17 percent. Single-family construction rose 1.3 percent in April and 14 percent year-over-year. Multifamily spending soared 4.4 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Improvements to existing single- and multifamily structures slumped 2. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 11, 2014

CT Construction Digest June 11, 2014

Developer confident about Monroe retail project, despite lawsuit

The designer of a mega-size retail project planned for Monroe is confident that it will be built, despite litigation brought by the town of Trumbull, which has voiced concerns about flooding of the nearby Pequonnock River. Trumbull brought the court action in February against the town of Monroe and its Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as developer Kimball Land Holdings, and Tim Herbst, its first selectman, said Monday that Trumbull is adamant that the project not detrimentally affect the community. "Our concern is the impact of storm runoff. Our town has a significant flooding issue. It (the Pequonnock River) is a large body of water that goes directly through town. Our intent is to exhaust all administrative remedies," said Herbst, who has practiced land-use during his career as lawyer. "There are Monroe residents who are challenging this in the form of a zoning appeal."
But Kevin Solli, principal in Solli Engineering, the Monroe civil engineering and land development consulting firm that designed the project, said Friday that he is confident in his drainage plans and the conflict will be resolved, allowing construction of the 161,000-square-foot building on Victoria Drive off Main Street. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Ansonia will rebuild public housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Tuesday that it has reached agreements with the city of Ansonia and the Ansonia Housing Authority, settling allegations that the city and the housing authority discriminated against African Americans, Hispanics, and families with children when they demolished and later refused to rebuild subsidized, low-income public housing units."These agreements will help ensure that former public housing residents in Ansonia and the surrounding area, including minority households and families with children, have access to much needed affordable housing," said Dave Ziaya, HUD's Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, in a prepared statement. "HUD will continue to work with housing authorities and local governments to create greater housing opportunities for low-income individuals and families." In June 2012, the housing authority received an approval letter from HUD to demolish the complex. HUD approved the demolition on condition that the housing authority would rebuild 48 units and that residents would have the right to return following redevelopment. HUD says the housing authority refused to rebuild the units. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Wallingford company to address issues with its expansion

WALLINGFORD — The development of two parcels on North Plains Highway for a new division of United Concrete Products is the subject of several alleged environmental violations issued by local and federal regulators earlier this year. In January, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for the creation of a new subsidiary of United Concrete Products called the Pile Division, located at 59 and 65 North Plains Highway. “Piles” are long concrete pieces that are used in projects such as bridge construction. Both North Plains properties are owned by United Concrete Products, based at 173 Church St.Jonathan Gavin, the company’s president, did not return a request for comment Monday or Tuesday.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE