September 30, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 30, 2014

Talking Transportation Foley vs Malloy on Transportation

Regular readers of this column know that I’ve never been shy about criticizing Governor Malloy for his transportation policies.  But after hearing him and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley, discuss transportation in a recent forum, I am enthusiastically endorsing Malloy for re-election. In my view, Tom Foley is clueless.  He doesn’t understand the issues, has no new ideas and often refuses to address specifics.  If he is our next governor, mass transit in Connecticut is in serious trouble. Since early in the campaign Foley has said we spend too much on mass transit, often to the detriment of our roads.  He also says it is not the state’s job to “purposefully push people out of their cars and onto mass transit”.  Huh?   Does Foley think that state troopers are blocking commuter access to I-95 and forcing them onto Metro-North?  This is crazy-talk. Both Foley and Malloy agree that traffic congestion is bad. But Foley offers no solutions, aside from saying we need more highways. Malloy acknowledges the traffic mess but says that spending more on mass transit will give drivers alternatives, encouraging (not forcing) them off the highways. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New 60,000 square foot wing opens at Platt

MERIDEN — Students and teachers were still trying to navigate the new wing of Platt High School Monday, hours after it opened for the first time. The new section, which includes 18 classrooms, a media center, and band and choral rooms, is prominent from both Coe Avenue and Oregon Road.
Though still missing new furniture, computers, and white boards; and with the band and choral rooms and media center not due to open for a couple weeks, students and teachers filled the classrooms in the 60,000-square-foot-wing.  “This is so much easier for us, everything is right here,” freshman Wendy Solis said, standing in one of four new science classrooms. A majority of the classrooms are for freshmen, though a handful will be used by other grades. “I like how we’re the first ones who get to use it,” said Ariana Taylor, another freshman. “I’m still not used to it yet though, still finding my way around.”  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Groton - The town could build a central hub for athletic activity and address a dire need for more playing fields for about $12.2 million, according to architects who have developed a master plan. Chad Frost, of Kent + Frost Landscape Architecture of Mystic, on Monday outlined a $9.5 million plan for development on the Merritt property off Route 1 and a $2.7 million plan for baseball fields at Sutton Park. The plan was detailed during a public meeting attended by about a dozen people. The Merritt property happens to also be the site of a proposed central Middle School, which Frost said was announced after his plan was developed. The plan for additional athletic fields was the outcome of a needs assessment study started last year, addressing a need that Parks and Recreation Director Mark Berry said dates back a decade and has only increased in recent years. The needs assessment study found the amount of use on nine town, 14 school and 12 semi-private recreational fields by more than 2,100 players for games and practices has exceeded capacity, making scheduling difficult and scattering teams throughout town, Frost said. For an example, he said, Poquonnock Plains, the most highly used park in town, needs an additional 117 hours per week to meet demand. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Centerplan trio's DoNo proposal steeped in urban revival

Robert A. Landino, the Connecticut developer intimately working to bring a ballpark and more redevelopment to downtown Hartford, is a man of many skills and ambitions. The youngest child of a '60s urban planner involved in remaking central New Haven, Landino earned his civil engineering degree at the University of Hartford in 1983. In the mid-80s, he and his ex-wife leveraged their engineering skills to form Meriden land-planning/design firm BL Companies in their Elm City apartment, widening its Atlantic seaboard market before selling it to their employees in 2004.
Years later, setting up his own realty development-engineering-construction enterprise under the Centerplan Cos. banner, Landino eventually became involved with his brother, Paul, doing the multi-million-dollar renovation of Connecticut's network of 23 highway service plazas. Another Bob Landino venture involves installing solar panels on Walmart rooftops. In between, Bob Landino served as an Old Saybrook selectman and a three-term state lawmaker. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Budget choices, fiscal maneuvers undermine transportation funding

A decade of questionable budget decision and fiscal maneuvers has taken the steam out of Connecticut's transportation improvement program. A growing list of long-desired projects is deemed unaffordable by transportation officials. In addition, billions of dollars in transportation financing has been approved in name only -- and not converted into actual dollars spent on highways, bridges and railroads.“Connecticut’s next governor has two choices: provide safe and efficient transportation, or allow our infrastructure to crumble,” said Don Shubert, transportation advocate and president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. “Maintaining the aging system of roads, bridges and rail lines in a state of good repair is critical for the safety and reliability of the system that the vast majority of the traveling public are using every day.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State invests $2.6M in Middletown's waterfront redevelopment

MIDDLETOWN >> The state is giving the city $2.6 million to design a new boathouse and clean up the land around it. Gov. Dannel Malloy, Mayor Daniel Drew and the city’s legislative delegation circled up Monday at Harbor Park to announce Urban Act grant funding for the city through the Department of Economic and Community Development. The land in question – under the city’s current boathouse and at Columbus Point – had seen industrial use before the city took ownership. City Planner Michiel Wackers said there had been a coal power plant in the area, and the soil cap at Columbus Point is shallower than more recent standards. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 29, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 29, 2014

Oxford power plant may face another fight

Oxford wants tax revenue. The state needs power. Neighbors want nothing to do with it.
In the works for 15 years, officials say they're pushing ahead with plans for a natural-gas-fired power plant near Oxford airport.  Competitive Power Ventures, a Maryland-based company, will file permits soon to build an 805-megawatt combined-cycle electric generating facility in an Oxford industrial park. There are no Oxford homes nearby, but several just across the town line in Middlebury, where residents and officials have vowed to fight the project. The plant will be fueled by natural gas from the Algonquin Interstate Pipeline, which runs nearby.  And in Shelton, a $40 million United Illuminating Co. substation is under construction in part to serve that community's fast growth over the past decade. With older, less-efficient plants coming offline, company and town officials say the time is right to get the Oxford project moving. `Big fuss'\"The tax benefits will be monumental for the town of Oxford," First Selectman George Temple said. "It won't take up that much space, will mostly be invisible. Ten years from now, everyone will be saying, 'What was the big fuss?' " CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Business groups get on board bus-only route idea

HARTFORD >> Business leaders along the route of the $567 million bus-only corridor in central Connecticut are stepping in to pump up support for the massive project. The Newington Chamber of Commerce organized a networking meeting Wednesday morning on a bus built for the new CTfastrak transit system, picking up business representatives along the route there. The aim is to familiarize business owners and representatives with the route, the buses specially ordered for the corridor and how the new mass transit system will work. “Until it’s up and running, I don’t think people know what to expect,” said Gail Whitney, executive director of the Newington Chamber of Commerce. “People are definitely aware of it, hopefully in a positive vein.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Preston report focuses on town's future

Preston - Nearly two years of work by the town planning staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission along with input from all boards and commissions as well as residents has resulted in a draft Plan of Conservation and Development ready to be reviewed by the public. The report includes sections on economic development, agriculture, town facilities, traffic concerns and statistics and descriptions of town population, trends and problem spots. Maps depict key areas targeted for development, farmland preservation and protection of waterways and open space land. Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Art Moran said the commission decided to tackle the mandated 10-year plan update in house this time and entrusted much of the work to the two-person staff of Planner Kathy Warzecha and Planning Assistant Kathleen Nichols. "Everybody on the commission worked very hard on this," Moran said, "and everyone on the commission felt (Warzecha and Nichols) did a terrific job on it. All the other boards and commissions in town contributed. It was a very good experience. … It's got a great cover, great pictures and great maps." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT Transportation spending lags

 A new nationwide study suggest Connecticut might be at greater risk from the federal transportation funding stalemate than its major Northeast neighbors because it relies more heavily on aid from Washington. Although Connecticut has been beefing up what it spends to maintain roads, repair bridges and keep transit systems running, it still lags the national average as well as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Vermont and Maine, according to the new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.Pew's study of the country's transportation funding landscape reinforces what other analysts have been reporting in recent years: Money from federal, state and local governments is falling at the same time that the cost of maintaining the country's infrastructure is climbing steeply.
"America has a rough road ahead when it comes to funding our transportation system," said Phil Oliff, a manager at Pew, a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit that researches policy issues. Pew analysts stayed clear of the partisan battle that heavily influences the Congressional deadlock over transportation investments, but emphasized a core economic factor: The gas tax that once covered most of the federal government's share of keeping the highway system running just doesn't do the job any longer. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Improving transportation in CT: A decade of slow going 

It was supposed to transform Connecticut’s aging, overcrowded transportation network.
Five increases in the state’s wholesale fuel tax to be spread across the coming decade won the near-unanimous support of the 2005 legislature and Gov. M. Jodi Rell.  The tax hikes came mostly as planned – the last two were combined into one imposed in July 2013. This year the state expects to rake in 40 percent more at the pumps, in wholesale and retail taxes combined, than it did a decade ago. Connecticut’s transportation network hasn’t made similar progress. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 26, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 26, 2014

Southington will lead in planning for private sports complex

SOUTHINGTON — Town officials are hoping to attract a sports complex to West Queen Street that could provide indoor soccer, football and volleyball along with a restaurant.
The Economic Development Strike Committee, comprised of town councilors and other town officials, voted to send out a request for engineering firms that would provide conceptual plans for the complex at 1601 West St. Thirty-five acres of the more than 100 acres of the Sepko farm property will be used for the complex. Lou Perillo, the town’s economic development coordinator, said the town will do the work of getting approval from the town’s various regulatory boards and commissions for the project. Southington can then provide a company with a site that’s ready to be developed. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
ARTFORD — A proposed $350 million development in the city's downtown north area that includes a minor league baseball stadium would create 1,000 to 1,300 permanent jobs throughout the state, most of those in Hartford County and more than a third in the city, a UConn economist told the city council Thursday. At the peak of construction in 2018, the jobs total would reach 2,000, said Fred Carstensen, an economist hired by the city council.  The project would also raise overall personal incomes after taxes by $120 million in the peak year of 2018; the increase would fall, to about $100 million a year as construction winds down in 2020, before rising steadily for the next decade because of inflation. Carstensen noted that the projections are for the equivalent of full-time jobs — positions that are direct, indirect and induced. The project would also generate $30 million to $40 million a year in added income tax revenue between 2018 and 2030. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
HARTFORD — A massive makeover of the decaying Capewell Horse Nail Co. factory is closer than it has been in 20 years, but developers of the $26 million apartment project are still without a key piece of funding. Two bank loan deals fell through in recent months when lenders backed out of closings. One lender was concerned about the extent of the environmental clean-up needed in the brick-and-brownstone building, constructed in 1902. The developer, Corporation for Independent Living, or CIL, has whittled away at the financing gap with one smaller bank loan, but there is still a $6 million shortfall in bank financing."The hole is getting smaller, but we still have to fill that hole," CIL's chief operating officer Kent Schwendy said.Obtaining the rest of the bank financing is crucial because until it is secured, most of the funding for the project, while committed, won't be released to CIL. The funding includes a $5 million mortgage from the Capital Region Development Authority, a state brownfields clean-up loan, plus funds from state and federal historic tax credits. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
CANTON — Developer Allan Borghesi has withdrawn his controversial plan to build an industrial park near Satan's Kingdom on the Farmington River, citing the outpouring of opposition from residents. Borghesi filed a notice with the town on Thursday withdrawing his application to rezone 30 acres, now zoned for residential use, so he could build the industrial park, Town Planner Neil Pade said. Borghesi said he was concerned his request would not be granted by the town's planning and zoning commission. But that is not likely to be the end of the issue. Borghesi owns the property and has said previously that because of his substantial investment, he intends to develop it. Borghesi has said that he could build as many as 22 houses on the property. He said Thursday he is reviewing that idea along with other options, but would not elaborate. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
ANCHESTER — School Superintendent Matthew Geary has scheduled eight information sessions in October on the upcoming school building and renovation referendum.
On Nov. 4, voters will be asked to approve or reject $84.2 million in bonds. With state reimbursement, local taxpayers would be responsible for $37.6 million, officials have said.
The districtwide modernization plan includes creation of a fifth- and sixth-grade school, combining Bennet Academy with the Cheney Building, and "like-new" renovations and additions to Verplanck and Waddell elementary schools so that each school could serve up to 525 students. The plan also includes closing Robertson and Washington schools. Town officials are completing an informational brochure on the spending question which will be available to the public by the middle of next week, General Manager Scott Shanley said Thursday. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 25, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 25, 2014

Bridge in a backpack technology aims to revolutionize bridge construction

According to the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) National Bridge Inventory, 147,870 of the 607,751 bridges in the country are deficient. This includes 63,522 structurally deficient and 84,348 functionally obsolete bridges. Structurally deficient bridges are bridges with critical load-carrying elements that are in poor condition due to damage or deterioration. Functionally obsolete bridges are bridges that no longer meet current standards for bridge construction such as load capacity or lane width. With nearly a quarter of all bridges in the country labelled deficient, some state DOTs have turned to accelerated bridge construction (ABC) programs to reduce the number of structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges they maintain. Accelerated bridge construction involves using innovative engineering, materials and construction methods to deliver cost-effective solutions to improve project delivery times and work zone safety while at the same time reducing onsite construction time and traffic impacts. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State officials consider big changes for Route 9 in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN >> State transportation officials pitched a new Route 9 interchange, which would include an acceleration lane from Route 17 and no more access from Harbor Drive, to city residents Tuesday. Engineers for the Department of Transportation laid out the design concept for the Common Council and about 30 members of the public at a City Hall workshop. The purpose of the redesign is to eliminate the stop sign that halts northbound traffic merging onto Route 9 from Route 17, as that intersection has an unusually high rate of accidents.  DOT predicts the cost for the project would fall between $20 million and $25 milllion.  Rough estimates put construction for the project about four years out. In order to transform the interchange’s current layout into an acceleration lane for traffic coming off Route 17, DOT would widen the Route 9 bridge over Union Street. To do that it would also need to move the intersection of Union, Harbor and River Road further towards the Connecticut River. Project Engineer Erik Jarboe said it would be a good opportunity to turn that intersection into a T, rather than the current, slightly confusing configuration. Jarboe said the Harbor Drive on-ramp only put about 500 cars per day onto the highway during peak hours – a low number for that sort of access point – so the traffic impact should be minimal. Motorists heading north could instead access Route 9 from Main Street Extension or go north to Hartford Avenue. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

UCONN to spend $1M for new roof on building to be demolished

STORRS >> The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved spending more than $1 million to put a new roof on a science building that is scheduled to be demolished. Laura Cruickshank, the school’s master planner, says it will be another five years before the construction under the Next Generation UConn initiative can replace all the classrooms and labs inside the Torrey Life Science Building on the Storrs campus.  She says the building, which dates to 1961, has major structural issues, which have led to serious leaking when it rains and created problems for researchers and students. The school budgeted more than $130 million to renovate the building and bring it up to current research standards, but the problems were deemed too extensive to fix so the money was re-allocated.

Plainfield hopes to add water lines at Lathrop Rd business park

As sure as trees need sun and humans need air, so do businesses require water. To meet that need, Plainfield officials are applying for a $300,000 state grant to construct new water pipes to reach the town's alternate industrial park on Lathrop Road Extension. "The biggest problem in that area is the lack of water," First Selectman Paul Sweet said. "The businesses there now, and the ones coming in, require great volumes of water for everything from fire suppression, to drinking, to meeting their specific manufacturing needs." The Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant proposal is due by Nov. 28. Officials propose building roughly a quarter-mile of 8-inch pipes under Lathrop Road Extension and hooking them into existing 12-inch municipal water pipes on the east side of Route 12. ARS Products LLC, soon to be located on nearby Community Avenue Extension, is scheduled to lay separate 8-inch pipes, which will eventually be hooked up to the Lathrop Road Extension lines. That ring of water pipes and hydrants would provide about 1,500 gallons per minute of water to the area, eliminating the need for the existing fire ponds, which currently serve as the business park's only source of water for fire suppression. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newington choses firm to demolish National welding Complex

NEWINGTON — The town has chosen a contractor to tear down the National Welding complex, bringing the long derelict property a step closer to redevelopment. "With any luck at all, we anticipate the Newington 'butt ugly building' will disappear by February of next year," Economic Development Director Andy Brecher told the town council this week, referring to a former eyesore in Hartford that was torn down. The winning bidder is Standard Demolition of Trumbull, Brecher said. Its bid was below the estimated $2 million cost, he said.
"We got many competitive bids," Brecher said. "We are well within the $2 million."
Dismantling the buildings could begin as soon as next month and will last until early next year, Brecher said. Once one of the town's biggest employers and taxpayers, National Welding has been closed for 20 years. The town eventually took the property for unpaid taxes.
The parcel near the busy intersection of Fenn Road and Cedar Street sits next to a station for CTfastrak, the dedicated busway between New Britain and Hartford that will begin service next year. Town officials hope that the property's proximity to the busway will spur its redevelopment. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Take a tour of the XL Center's renovations

he XL Center has released another video showing progress on renovations to the Hartford arena.
In the video posted on YouTube Tuesday, Robert Saint, director of construction services for the Capital Region Development Authority, shows the work that was done ahead of a Sept. 13 Tom Petty concert at the XL Center. The $35 million renovation project began early this summer and will be finished by the first week of October, in time for the start of the 2014 Wolf Pack and UConn hockey seasons. When completed, the XL Center will have a new bar area inside the arena, luxury seating lower in the bowl and other upgrades to the concourse, locker rooms and mechanical systems. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT 4th District race: Traffic key issue

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Transportation emerged as a top campaign issue Wednesday in Connecticut's 4th Congressional District, where commuters face major traffic jams daily on Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway while they endure recurring problems on the Metro-North Railroad.
At a news conference, Republican challenger Dan Debicella criticized incumbent Jim Himes, a Democrat, for not doing enough to fix traffic woes in the wealthy district next to New York that includes Connecticut's Gold Coast. Debicella also laid out his plans to reduce traffic congestion and improve the commuter railroad. Himes later countered by saying he has helped secure nearly $1 billion for transportation projects in southwestern Connecticut during his three terms in the House of Representatives. "I tell voters, 'If you think your commute is getting better, vote for Jim Himes,'" said Debicella, a former state senator from Shelton who lost to Himes in 2010. "In 2007 and 2008, transportation was a big issue for candidate Himes, but then Congressman Himes forgot all about it."
Himes responded: "This is election year theatrics. We've grown used to getting this from Dan Debicella. While he's been working in a hedge fund, I've contributed to bringing in almost a billion dollars of investment in our infrastructure. ... He's just blowing a lot of hot air." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 24, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 24, 2014

NU transmission line named best New England energy project

The $676 million Northeast Utilities transmission project designed to increase reliability and efficiency around northern Connecticut was named the Best Energy/Industrial Project in New England by a national engineering trade magazine. The Engineering News-Record honored the Greater Springfield Reliability Project for its innovation, safety, and teamwork. The project began in 2010 and finished in November. It laid 39 miles of new transmission lines between Bloomfield and Ludlow, Mass., installing more than 600 new transmission structures and building 13 substations.
The work came in $40 million under budget, despite major weather events during the construction period including Tropical Storm Irene, Superstorm Sandy, and blizzards in 2011 and 2013.
The GSRP is part of a larger NU effort to build transmission lines throughout the region, called the New England East-West Solutions program. The program also includes the $218 million Interstate Reliability Project in eastern Connecticut, which is expected to be completed next year, and the Central Connecticut Reliability Project, which is still being studied.

Killingly voters urged to pass sewer upgrade plans

Upgrades to the Killingly water treatment plant will be the subject of a public hearing and special town meeting on Sept. 30. It will be the second time in less than a month that voters will address the issue. Residents voted down a Sept. 9 referendum on the issue by a margin of just eight out of 450 votes. That low voter turnout and perceived public confusion on the issue prompted the Town Council to bring the issue back to the voters in a town meeting forum.
Water Pollution Control Authority Chair Gerard Cinque Mars believes that if voters don't pass the initiative, the town will be at risk. Should the equipment fail, pumps break down and untreated sewage be discharged into the Quinebaug River, the fines will be exorbitant. The Dept of Energy and Environmental Control could force the town to do the work immediately.
Director of Public Works David Capacchione agrees. "We need to meet the discharge limits," Capacchione said. "We need to comply with state regulations. This is not a frivolous project." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 23, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 23, 2014

Bridgeport to receive funding for affordable housing

HARTFORD – Bridgeport, Stamford and New Milford are receiving $4.2 million in state grants and loans to create additional affordable housing. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced $10.6 million in funding statewide to help eight projects and create 131 units of new affordable housing.
“Increasing the supply of all types of affordable housing is one of the best ways we can build stronger communities, reduce homelessness, promote transit-oriented development and improve the quality of life for our residents,” Malloy said. “These are smart investments that are making a real difference in peoples’ lives,” the governor said. In Bridgeport, a $1 million grant will be provided to ComCap, a non-profit organization which has provided over $25 million and assisted in the development and rehabilitation of over 1,000 units. The state grant provides financing for the development and preservation of affordable multi-family rental housing for low- and moderate-income families in Bridgeport. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Demolition of Church and Morse buildings in Meriden

MERIDEN — Buildings at the corner of South Colony and Perkins streets began falling in dramatic fashion Monday morning, as the city proceeded with its flood control and redevelopment plan downtown. Progress on the demolition project had some residents feeling nostalgic as they watched the 100-plus-year-old buildings come crashing down.  The buildings at 33 and 51-53 S. Colony St. — the former Church and Morse company and the Meriden Auction Rooms buildings, respectively – are being torn down to allow better access to the railroad bridge behind them. A twin culvert will be added to the bridge to prevent chronic flooding. Harbor Brook runs directly under the Church and Morse building. Sarah Baxter-Church, whose sister Joanne Church ran the hardware store until 2010 when her ailing health forced her to step down, said that the demolition brings mixed feelings. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Society Rd Bridge replacement t0 be completed in 2016

The state Department of Transportation said the construction work, which began on Friday, will be complete by May 19, 2016. The project includes the replacement of the bridge, as well as roadway paving and new drainage structures and guide rails, according to a DOT news release. The existing 140-foot-long overpass, near Interstate 95's Exit 73, was built in 1958, according to the DOT. They will replace the bridge to address the condition of its substructure, which the DOT considers “structurally deficient.” The project also will modernize the overall bridge and bring its vertical clearance up to current standards. The DOT first presented its plans for the bridge to the public two years ago and said the bridge will accommodate the proposed widening of I-95 in the future. The state awarded a $5,275,452.50 contract this summer to New England Road Inc. for the construction work. I-95 traffic may be halted up to 10 minutes between 12:01 a.m. and 5 a.m., and between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, according to the DOT. Other roads may be impacted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. with 10 minute stoppages. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Loureiro adds D.C. office

 Plainville's Loureiro Engineering Associates said it has opened an office in Washington, D.C. that will focus on offering recycling and waste management services to companies in that area.
It's the fifth office for the firm, which also has operations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The office will be led by new hire Russell Klein, who previously worked as a community recycling educator for D.C.'s public works department. Klein holds a LEED certification in green building practices from the U.S. Green Building Council.

West Haven City Council approves application for $2M state clean-up grant for The Haven

WEST HAVEN >> The City Council unanimously approved the application for a $2 million state brownfield grant Monday night to do environmental clean-up on two parcels slated to be part of the The Haven upscale outlet mall on the West River Crossing site adjacent to New Haven Harbor.
The approval of an application — for a state Department of Economic and Community Development grant that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy already announced last month that the city will receive — came after council members spent a few minutes asking questions about how the grant differs from a previous grant to clean up the property. Commissioner of Economic Development Joseph Riccio explained in response to a question from Councilman Mike Last, D-9, acting chairman of the council Finance Committee, that the first grant was for demolition and stabilization of the shoreline and the installation of a new bulkhead. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 19, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 19, 2014

Greenwich moves to settle lawsuits over Ham Ave School Construction

Greenwich selectmen and finance officials have endorsed a proposed settlement between the town and the firm that oversaw the beleaguered construction of Hamilton Avenue School -- an agreement that would resolve years of litigation between the two parties.   The Board of Selectmen and Board of Estimate and Taxation Budget Committee this week unanimously endorsed the $1.2 million settlement, which if given final approval will resolve a nearly $6 million lawsuit filed by Worth Construction against the town and an approximately $2 million countersuit by the town against the Bethel-based firm. The two sides have been negotiating a settlement for several months.
"Given the nature of the case and the timeframe, this seems to be the best result," said First Selectman Peter Tesei. "It's not a zero or 100 percent proposition. It's not a case where one side is going to give all and one side is going to give nothing. It's going to be where each side has to give a little."
The settlement, which also needs approval by the full BET and the Representative Town Meeting's Claims Committee, would close the book on a construction fiasco that displaced kids and enraged parents and taxpayers as the school project dragged on and its cost swelled. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Natural gas line means more energy for Stamford
Danella Construction employees lay a pipe for natural gas for the Building and Land Technology buildings at the intersection of Washington Blvd. and Henry Street near the Stamford Transportation Center in Stamford, Conn., on Thursday, September 18, 2014. Photo: Lindsay Perry / Stamford Advocate
The installation of a new natural gas line is underway along the southern end of Washington Boulevard with the goal of providing service to residential and business customers.
Running between Henry Street and the railroad trestle to the north, the project started Tuesday and should take up to two weeks to complete, according to Ed Easley, general manager of the Connecticut operations of Pennsylvania-based Danella Construction, contractor for Yankee Gas, a division of Northeast Utilities. The work incorporates the use of 12-inch polyethylene pipe instead of more traditional steel pipe. "This is the first 12-inch plastic gas main installed in Connecticut," Easley said, adding that smaller diameter polyethylene pipe has been used to transport natural gas for three decades in Connecticut. "Plastic has a 50-year lifespan. The problem with a steel main is that the lifespan is 20 years." The pipe will run about 500 feet, said NU spokesman Mitch Gross, declining to discuss the price of the project. "This is an investment by Yankee in anticipation of future construction by Building and Land Technology along Washington Boulevard," said Gross, referring to the developer who has transformed an 80-acre tract in the South End of the city through its Harbor Point mixed-use development. "There have been conversations with Building and Land Technology regarding potential plans." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

South Main Street under construction

NEW BRITAIN — The downtown road work that began causing headaches for many pedestrians, motorists and business owners this week will be completed by Oct. 10, according to state Department of Transportation officials.
Crews from Tilcon began milling the 2.45-mile of road from South Street to Route 175 (Allen Street) on Monday. The milling of the state-owned roads — which entails removing the old surface of the roads and leaving the pavement grooved — will be complete on Wednesday, said Judd Everhart, state DOT spokesperson. He said the repaving and resurfacing of the roads will begin on Sept. 29 and is slated to be completed by Oct. 10. The work has resulted in numerous lane closures. “This is a very typical project,” Everhart said. “A completely resurfaced road should last for another 20 years.” The approximate $750,000 project will be paid entirely by the state, Everhart said. Everhart said the New Britain project is one of “dozens” the state DOT works on during the construction season, which runs from April 1 through Nov. 30. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CCSU getting makeover

NEW BRITAIN — A number of improvements have been made at Central Connecticut State University, including exterior and interior renovations that took place over the summer. Sal Cintorino, director of facilities management, said in a recent interview that the goal of the improvements is to make the campus more student-friendly. “We began several years ago, with a strategic plan to improve the quality of life on campus,” he said. The summer break saw more than $1.5 million in upgrades to the campus grounds, including renovations to the center of campus, replacement of cracked concrete with stamped asphalt and improvements to dorms, wifi capabilities and plumbing.  “For the past several years we have been doing renovations to ‘behind the wall’ things, like the roofs or the new underground fuel cell,” Cintorino said. Starting in late May, crews began work on changing out all the deteriorating concrete on campus with stamped asphalt, which has a brick-like appearance. “We wanted to get two things done this summer, make our campus a safer one and make it a more attractive one,” Cintorino said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Low bids mean added amenities at Clinton's new Morgan School

CLINTON >> Favorable bids on construction of the town’s new high school have allowed the addition of some amenities to the facility, while still holding the total expense below projected estimates, school and town officials say. In advance of the ground-breaking ceremonies for the new school Monday, the Morgan School building committee Tuesday settled on a firm construction cost of $51,959,000, just under the projected $52 million cost but including an extensive list of extras that would not have been covered by the estimate, committee Chairman Gerald Vece said. The total cost of the school, including construction, site acquisition, contingencies, and other expenses, stands at $64,750,000, of which the state will pay nearly half, leaving the town to bond a net cost of about $34 million. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Torrington receives $100K grant for brownfields

TORRINGTON >> The city received a $100,000 grant Thursday to help start brownfield assessment of the vacant and contaminated Nidec property on Franklin Drive. The city is one of 11 municipalities who together received $1.7 million for property clean up and brownfield redevelopment from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), according to a release from Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office.  Mayor Elinor Carbone said the money will be used to assess the Nidec Corporation warehouse on 100 Franklin Dr., which the company told the city earlier this year it planned to demolish. This assessment includes environmental impact studies needed to determine what kind of development is possible on contaminated sites. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

EPA rejects NY Gov's Tappan Zee loan approval

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to appeal a decision by federal regulators to reject his plan to use clean water funds to help finance the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
The Environmental Protection Agency said earlier this week it had rejected $482 million of the $511 million in clean-water loans Cuomo wanted for the bridge. The administration says the loans would reduce the bridge's $3.9 billion cost while helping to mitigate its environmental impact. Cuomo says the EPA decision won't affect the replacement project. The EPA specifically rejected proposals to use the loans for dredging and removing the existing span. The agency authorized $29 million for smaller related projects including marsh restoration. Environmental groups praised the decision, saying funds for drinking water, sewers and other water projects shouldn't pay for bridge construction.

September 18, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 18, 2014

Feds give CT $161M to fix Norwalk walk bridge

The federal government is sending $161 million to Connecticut to help replace the unreliable, 118-year-old movable rail bridge over the Norwalk River. The so-called Walk Bridge became stuck twice this summer, bringing train service to a halt between Norwalk and New York City. The bridge drew the attention of state and federal officials following a year in which rail service suffered some high-profile failures.  It's expected to be an expensive job, with one state Department of Transportation estimate placing the cost at $465 million, according to the governor's office. "The reliability of the Walk Bridge and the (Metro-North) New Haven Line is of critical importance to the entire Northeast Corridor. Too many people depend on the commuter line to continue to see the kinds of disruptions we saw over the summer," said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. "Connecticut was among many East Coast states applying for these very competitive grants to `harden' transportation infrastructure in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and I am pleased that we succeeded. This funding is great news for our economy and for our residents who rely on this system every day," he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Stamford Looks to fund Mill River improvements

STAMFORD -- The city will issue up to $22 million in new bonds later this month to retire those that funded construction of the 28-acre downtown section of Mill River Park completed last year.
City financial officials say the transaction will save millions in debt payments over the next two decades.  City Director of Administration Michael Handler said the move is prompted by a drop in interest rates and will produce $5 million in savings on interest payments.  The Mill River Collaborative will be able to use the $5 million to help finance future improvements to the park, Handler said.  "There is really no good argument not to refund the bonds," Handler said. "These transactions usually take place to achieve much more modest savings, and this is an absolute win-win for the city and Mill River Park."   Next week, the city will hold a sale of general obligation bonds that will reduce the interest rate from 7 percent to 3.5 percent.  Under the terms of the original tax-increment finance bonds issued three years ago, the city sold $16 million in bonds to fund an $11 million first phase to overhaul a 28-acre section of the park and pay back the city for $5 million it put toward the work.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State sought $349M to replace problem railroad bridge

Even though Norwalk's balky Walk Bridge has brought the country's busiest commuter railroad to a standstill several times, the Federal Transit Administration on Wednesday gave Connecticut less than half of what the state sought to replace it. The state and its Congressional delegation had lobbied heavily to get $349 million, with officials warning that increasingly frequent breakdowns of the 118-year-old bridge do far more than inconvenience train riders.
But as it balanced billions of dollars of requests for a limited pot of money, the FTA opted to give Connecticut just $160 million. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy promised that work to replace the Walk Bridge, scheduled to start in 2016, will go forward, and that the state will find other sources to make up the shortfall. "The reliability of the Walk Bridge and the New Haven line is of critical importance to the entire Northeast Corridor. Too many people depend on the commuter line to continue to see the kinds of disruptions we saw over the summer," Malloy said in a statement. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hearing on Satan's Kingdom plan is Wednesday night in Canton

CANTON — The planning and zoning commission will hold a hearing Wednesday night on the controversial Satan's Kingdom industrial park proposal for a vacant, wooded parcel on Rte 44.
The commission's meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. and will be in the auditorium of Canton High School at 76 Simonds Ave. After the hearing is closed the commission may take action on the proposal, according to an agenda for the meeting.
Developer Allan Borghesi wants to rezone 30 acres that are now designated for residential development to allow industrial uses. In a meeting with residents on Sept. 9, Borghesi said he plans to construct six buildings on the site, each with about 20,000 square feet. He has not specified what would go in the park but has said light industry is among the uses that could be there. Land abutting homes on Mohawk Drive would kept as a conservation area, Borghesi told residents.
The land in Canton adjoins an 18 acre parcel in New Hartford that Borghesi also plans to develop and in June he got that land rezoned from residential to industrial. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven Wooster Square apartments advance, hotel stalled

NEW HAVEN >> The City Plan Commission Wednesday advanced a proposal for 285 apartments in Wooster Square, while it has recommended putting the brakes on a proposed Marriot Residence Inn Hotel on Whalley Avenue. The commission approved a zoning ordinance map amendment changing some 2.5 acres in the area of 87 Union St. from a BA district to a central business/residential BD-1 district to allow for a mixed-use development by Noel Petra that will activate a dead zone on the edge of Wooster Square and Downtown.  The alders from the 7th and 8th wards spoke in favor of the zoning change as one that is a better fit for the area and allows for better design with the buildings closer to the street. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


September 17, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 17, 2014

Future of Litchfield courthouse up in the air

LITCHFIELD -- As work begins on a new courthouse in Torrington, plans are being made for the future use of the Litchfield Judicial District courthouse on West Street.
When the state Legislature approved the construction of a new 174,000-square-foot, $81 million building in Torrington, for which ground was broken in July, it was with the understanding that the courthouse in Litchfield would be repurposed. "Exactly what use the Litchfield courthouse will be put to is a bit up in the air," said Tom Siconolfi, executive director of administrative services for the state Judicial Branch."We'd like to find a use that will continue to bring people to the building. It is a draw for businesses in Litchfield's center and we want to maintain that situation. It wouldn't be used for administrative offices." The building constructed in 1889 doesn't meet the security requirements of a modern courthouse. How much work and how much money would be required to bring it up to code is still undetermined. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Options presented

BRISTOL — Jennifer Arasimowicz, chairman of the Bristol Downtown Development Corp., laid out the options for Renaissance Downtowns Tuesday night.
The Long Island-based developer presented a plan for the 17-acre Depot Square downtown site known as Building A, an approximately 100-unit apartment building with limited first floor retail space, for which they want a $6 million investment from the city to construct, she said at the joint session of the BDDC and the City Council. However, the city wanted a plan that included a public piazza, so Renaissance in August submitted a second plan, known as Building B, to meet that request. The developers want a $12 million investment by the city, Arasimowicz explained to the overflow crowd at City Hall. Once the current round of public hearings is over, the BDDC will meet and make a recommendation to the council, she said.  CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Fredrick Street bridge to be replaced

BRISTOL — The city will replace the Frederick Street Bridge beginning later this month.
Work is scheduled to start Sept. 29  and the bridge will be closed to through traffic from Oct. 6 to May 30 2015. Replacing the bridge will consist of removing the existing bridge, making minor channel improvements along the Coppermine Brook to enhance flow through the bridge and constructing a new bridge. The contractor, Dayton Construction, is scheduled to work through winter. The project area is limited to the area of the existing bridge and approximately 300 feet down stream of the bridge and 170 feet upstream of the bridge. Detour signage will be in place to assist in directing traffic around the construct site prior the the bridge closing.

Governor Malloy CT DOT exceeds goal of advertising of transportation projects

HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) has exceeded its goal of advertising $1 billion worth of bids on construction projects in the current federal fiscal year by 20 percent. At the end of the fiscal year on September 30, ConnDOT will have advertised bidding on $1.2 billion for 107 individual projects across Connecticut. “According the Federal Highway Administration, 21 jobs are created or sustained for every $1 million in transportation infrastructure spending, meaning that $1.2 billion translates to 25,200 jobs in direct construction and supplier jobs,” said Governor Malloy. “Many thousands of additional jobs are sustained indirectly by transportation spending, ranging from sandwich vendors on construction sites to engineering firms that design major projects.” Highlights of the projects advertised this fiscal year include:
Widening of I-84 in Waterbury, $403 million;
New Haven Commuter Rail Line overhead power line replacement, $116 million;
New stations on the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line (in Wallingford, Berlin and Meriden), $70 million;
Road and safety improvements in Stratford, $29 million;
Replacement of four Route 8 bridges in Bridgeport, $41 million;
Resurfacing of some 264 miles of roads around the state, $71 million;
Bus Maintenance Facility in Watertown, $85 million.
“The construction industry is the initial return on investment as these projects come on line,” said Don Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association. “With ConnDOT leveraging its resources and developing an ambitious program, our industry is stepping up its efforts to provide opportunities for people to work in good-paying jobs.  That is just the initial return.  These projects reach much farther than our industry.  They drive economic activity, provide safer and more efficient transportation choices, and the put the infrastructure in place to support economic growth and prosperity for future generations. “As we make investments in transportation improvements around our state, we are putting people to work,” said ConnDOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. “When we unveiled our 2014-2018 Capital Investment Plan, we estimated that we would advertise about 80 projects this year valued at approximately $1 billion ($800 million contract value only). As the fiscal year comes to an end, we have delivered on that promise – and much more.” ConnDOT oversees and maintains an extensive network of roads and bridges, commuter rail lines, public transit bus operations, ports and two seasonal ferries across the Connecticut River. Citizens are encouraged to submit their ideas regarding the future of transportation in Connecticut online at
New England energy conglomerate Northeast Utilities on Tuesday unveiled its plans for a $3 billion expansion of the natural gas transmission system, believing it will relieve bottlenecks on the system causing electric and heating price spikes. NU, which is dually headquartered in Hartford and Boston, will partner with Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp. to expand two of the pipelines bringing natural gas into New England. The project, called Access Northeast, can be completed in phases to meet demand, but it has an anticipated in-service date of November 2018, as long as it is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The expanded capacity of roughly 1 billion cubic feet of gas will help meet the growing demand for natural gas in power plants and home heating systems. The increased domestic mining of natural gas has made it significantly cheaper than most other fossil fuels – notably oil – causing the rise of New England natural gas power plants, which now produce roughly half the electricity in the region, and expansions of natural gas home heating systems, including a $7 billion project in Connecticut. Even though natural gas is cheap, the limited pipeline capacity makes it difficult to get the fuel to New England. Last winter, cold weather and pipeline constraints caused several natural gas power plants to shut down for lack of fuel, forcing the regional grid to rely on less efficient, more expensive plants. The average wholesale power prices in January, February, and March were the highest on record. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hazardous material to be removed from Sikorsky airport

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency is holding a public hearing Wednesday to discuss the removal of 14,000 cubic yards of hazardous materials in Bridgeport as part of the Sikorsky Airport Improvements Project. The material is coming out of the Raymark Industries Superfund Site. Raymark manufactured auto parts until 1989, and the site is contaminated with asbestos, lead, and copper, among other soil hazards. EPA will hold a public hearing from 4-9 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph's Parish Hall at 1300 Main St. in Bridgeport to discuss the removal of the materials. The removal is necessary for the Sikorsky Airport project to proceed, as it involves relocating some surrounding roads. Heavy construction equipment will be used to excavate soil. A staging area will store and stabilize it; and trucking will be arranged for disposing material to appropriate out-of-state waste disposal facilities. Clean fill will be brought in.

Spectra Energy looking to expand pipeline capacity in Glastonbury

GLASTONBURY — Nearly 15 years ago, a natural gas pipeline was installed reaching from the banks of the Connecticut River in South Glastonbury across southern and eastern portions of town.
Now, Spectra Energy and its Algonquin Gas Transmission System have returned to Glastonbury and are seeking to expand the line, not only through town, but across the state. The aim of Spectra's Atlantic Bridge Project is to provide enough pipeline capacity to connect abundant natural gas supplies with markets in New England and the Maritime provinces. About 10 miles of new 36-inch diameter pipeline would be installed from Cromwell under the Connecticut River across town. The pipeline runs mostly through fields and forests, although it also passes through some residential neighborhoods. Survey crews have been working with property owners on extending the right of way from 75 feet to 150 feet. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven, West Haven, UNH break ground on new magnet school

WEST HAVEN >> Officials from both New Haven and West Haven turned out Tuesday to celebrate the start of construction for the new, University of New Haven-affiliated Engineering & Science University Magnet School, widely known by its acronym, ESUMS. “We are so excited. We waited so long for this day to come,” ESUMS Principal Medria Blue-Ellis told a crowd gathered beneath a white tent that included a number of blue-and-white pom pom-waving ESUMS students.  She and other officials spoke just prior to the groundbreaking for the college-preparatory inter-district magnet school. It will be built in what now is a UNH parking lot at the end of Isadore Street, adjacent to a UNH athletic field. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

Cheshire company ordered to pay $15.8M for Penn crash
PITTSBURGH — A Connecticut construction company should pay a western Pennsylvania woman $15.8 million for injuries she suffered in a work zone crash a day before her daughter's wedding five years ago, a western Pennsylvania jury ruled. A spokeswoman for Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Conn., said the company hasn't decided whether to appeal Monday's verdict in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Brenda Gump-Schragl, 56, sued claiming the Route 51 construction site was dangerous and that the company made no changes despite previous crashes along the construction zone in Pleasant Hills, a Pittsburgh suburb. The woman was injured when her son, Daniel Gump, tried to turn left from the northbound lanes of the highway into a restaurant for his sister's rehearsal dinner on June 11, 2009. Their car was hit by a driver coming in the other direction who didn't see the Gump vehicle because of traffic backed up in a southbound turning lane. Gump-Schragl was in a coma for five weeks, has no short-term memory, and relies on a walker due to her injuries. Her daughter's marriage was postponed for a year due to the crash. Claims against the other driver and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation were previously settled. The jury found the other driver 42 percent responsible for the crash and PennDOT 40 percent responsible. Although Lane Construction was deemed only 18 percent responsible, under Pennsylvania law the company is liable for the entire damage verdict because the other defendants had already settled. The company's attorney, Mark McKenna, had argued at trial that the contractor didn't have the authority to change the traffic control plan designed by PennDOT.     

10 Fastest growing occupations in the US

A job that provides a stable and liveable income is one of the most important elements in life for most working class adults. But with exceptionally high unemployment rates in recent years, such financial security is far from a guarantee. Even traditionally popular professions like teaching and law are increasingly difficult to enter, and many young, educated college graduates find themselves out of work. But there are well-paying jobs in growing fields for those who know where to look.
Using data from the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections report, we compiled a list of the 10 occupations forecasted to grow the fastest from 2012 to 2022. We also filtered for professions that pay a median wage of at least $51,000, which is the median income for households in the U.S. The jobs span a variety of industries, but most require at least a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. A handful require even further secondary education, while others can be self taught. Click through to see which occupations made the list. CLICK ON TITLE TO CONTINUE

September 16, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 16, 2014

Malloy, Foley promise transportation funds

NORTH HAVEN -- New York-bound Metro-North trains will soon depart from New Haven every half hour, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Monday at a forum on Connecticut's transportation problems.
Malloy and challenger Tom Foley spoke before hundreds of transportation advocates and professionals during a forum staged to avoid a head-to-head debate between the two top gubernatorial candidates. The candidates appeared separately, standing at a podium before about 200 people in the Best Western Plus Hotel here, in their first joint appearance since a debate in Norwich on Aug. 27. "Listen, we cannot be competitive with the rest of New England and with New York and New Jersey if we don't make substantial improvements in our transportation infrastructure on all parts," Malloy said during a 47-minute speech and question-and-answer session. "Quite frankly, I'm more than happy to let the last 3½ years speak for itself."  Foley said the state has underinvested in its transportation infrastructure and the result has been massive traffic jams.  "I, because of my business experience, know the difference between spending and investing," Foley said during a 26-minute speech-and-question session. "We simply have to do better and do more." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Lawyer questions city financing od Depot Square plan

BRISTOL — A confidential memorandum by a city-hired outside lawyer raises questions about the legality of a proposal for the city to help finance the initial phase of the Depot Square project.
The June 12 memo by Judith Blank, an attorney with the Hartford firm Day Pitney, said it didn’t have enough information to determine whether the proposal for the city to invest $6 million in the construction of a market-rate apartment building downtown is legal. Blank’s memo urged city leaders to consider whether the public benefit from the project outweighs the private gain for Renaissance Downtowns, the developer. It also appears to lend support to those who want to let the public vote on the plan before the city moves ahead. Blank wrote that a referendum is required under the most likely financing option. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Foley slams Malloy progressive agenda on mass transit

NORTH HAVEN >> Republican Tom Foley accused Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of driving people out of their cars and onto mass transit as part of a “progressive agenda” that he does not support. “I think a lot of people in Connecticut need their cars to get around and for some people mass transit doesn’t work for them, and they need to be able to make that choice for themselves. I don’t think the government should be telling them what to do,” Foley said to reporters after a transportation forum Monday. Malloy, when asked to respond to the assertion, seemed incredulous.  “What world is he in? Does he understand how many people use buses? Does he know what a bus is? Has he ever used a bus? Does he use the railroad?” Malloy asked. “Can you imagine Connecticut without the New Haven (rail) line?” The governor said he has spent more on transportation since the special fund was established, adjusted for inflation, than his three predecessors. Malloy said it isn’t a matter of spending money on transit or roads and bridges. “The balance has been more (spending) in both areas to make up for the deficit of spending over a long period of time.” The governor said he expects to announce shortly that trains will run every half hour out of New Haven. He also addressed the issue of buses. Malloy said Travelers Insurance employees in Hartford work for among the “most bused companies in the country, and it is a high-end company. I think he (Foley) has this idea all transit is for people other than his class and therefore it is not important and he is therefore totally missing the point.” The two men, who are in a repeat contest for the governor’s office, followed each other in talking to the packed breakfast meeting organized by the Connecticut Construction Industry Association, in conjunction with chambers of commerce, environmental advocates, planning agencies and city groups. Both candidates want to reduce congestion on Connecticut’s roads, with both looking to maximize federal dollars, something Malloy said he is already doing with five competitive TIGER grants coming to the state during his administration, while he allocated $25 million to communities for bridges and $120 million more in direct bonding. He said this year alone the state is closing in on $1.2 billion in transportation projects under way. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Structurally deficient bridges in CT

The Federal Department of Transportation has identified 413 of the more than 4,200 bridges managed by the state as “structurally deficient” — meaning inspectors found that at least one of the major components, including the deck, superstructure, substructure and culverts, was rated as being in “poor” or worse condition.  Many other bridges that were built to older standards in areas such as deck geometry or vertical clearance were rated “functionally obsolete” — but they are not necessarily in poor condition. For example, historic bridges over roads such as the Merritt Parkway, while structurally sound, earned the functionally obsolete classification because of low clearances.
Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick emphasized that a “structurally deficient” rating does not mean a bridge is unsafe. The classification informs future work orders for the bridges, he said, and insisted that inspectors examine each bridge for safety flaws that would necessitate a closing.  “All the bridges that we are responsible for are safe, and that is verifiable by any engineer worth their salt,” Nursick said. “All of the components of a bridge are thoroughly inspected, reviewed, and verified after the inspection process is done to make sure that there are no imminent or critical safety items that would put the public in harm’s way.”  Bridges are also assigned a 0-100 “sufficiency rating” that evaluates bridges according to a complex formula that takes into account structural adequacy and safety, serviceability and functional obsolescence, and "essentiality for public use," according to the FHWA handbook for bridge ratings.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Malloy and Foley drive home their differences on transit

NORTH HAVEN — Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican Tom Foley agree on one point: Traffic in Connecticut is bad. But at a transportation forum Monday morning, the two rivals offered starkly different visions on how to alleviate the congestion. Foley, a businessman from Greenwich, said the Malloy administration has placed too much emphasis on mass transit and has not done enough to expand capacity on the state's roads. "I understand there's ... important balances between mass transit and roads and bridges," Foley said. "But ... any purposeful strategy to push people out of their cars and onto mass transit, I really don't think is going to work."
Malloy said Foley's remarks show a deep disconnect between Foley's world view and the everyday lives of many Connecticut residents. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Reviving Rentschler Field grasslands debate a difficult path

EAST HARTFORD — A bird enthusiast is furious over plans to build an $85 million outlet center at Rentschler Field, an important nesting site for several rare grassland birds, and is trying to revive arguments to preserve the land. The outlet development could deal a catastrophic blow to the upland sandpiper, grasshopper sparrow, bobolink and other grassland species, some of them endangered in Connecticut, said Ronald Corcoran, 83, of Hartford. The birds use the fields to breed every spring, he said. Corcoran wants to stop the project or at least stall it long enough for an alternative nesting site to be found. He's contacted the Sierra Club, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, his state representative and state senator trying to gather support. "If we fight hard enough, maybe we can bide some time," Corcoran said. "The problem is nobody is offering much support."
Debate over preserving the grasslands at Rentschler started more than a decade ago as the University of Connecticut football stadium was built. Plans for an outlet center, announced earlier this year, have revived concerns among some birding enthusiasts. But the fight against development at Rentschler is long over, according to members of the Connecticut Audubon Society and Audubon Connecticut. Plans for development at Rentschler Field and strategies to lessen any impact on grassland birds were approved when the Cabela's outdoor equipment store was built in 2007. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Foley, Malloy vow to spend more on transportation but offer no plans to pay for it

North Haven – While Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Greenwich businessman Tom Foley both vowed Monday to spend heavily on transportation, neither gubernatorial contender outlined any plans to pay for these investments. Also at Monday’s forum, Foley said he would consider shutting down CT fastrak commonly known as the New Britain-to-Hartford busway, if the project’s annual operating drain on the state budget is too high. “This stuff is a passion to me,” Malloy told more than 200 transportation advocates gathered at the Best Western Plus in North Haven. Malloy, who conceded Connecticut must expand its transportation spending, nonetheless insisted he has outspent every administration dating back to Gov. William A. O’Neill's in the early 1980s.
“This administration is committed to build out the infrastructure of this state,” Malloy said.
“I know the difference between spending and investing,” Foley said, adding that while his plan is to hold overall state spending flat for the next two fiscal years, “there are areas where we need to invest more.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

TIGER Grant to transform Waterbury

WATERBURY -- The $14.4 million federal downtown development project will transform the city, creating both jobs and a vision for the future. That is what the politicians who helped the city "beat the odds" to secure this competitive transportation grant promised Monday at a celebration in Library Park. Assistant U.S. Transportation Policy Secretary Peter Rogoff said it was easier to get into Yale University than land one of these so-called TIGER grants. "But most importantly, (it is) going to create jobs right now when we need them most in a community that is still desperately in need of jobs," Rogoff told the crowd. The grant, which is part of the Federal Recovery Act, will fund the downtown portion of the Naugatuck River Greenway and other projects aimed at sparking economic development through improved transportation and access to the river. The city will use the money to redevelop 60 acres and create connections between downtown, the train station and the Naugatuck River, including the reconstruction of Freight Street, extending Jackson Street, a foot bridge over Meadow Street and train station improvements. In May, the city applied for a $19 million TIGER grant, which stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, to fund the project. Waterbury was one of 797 communities to apply for a TIGER grant this year. The federal government handed out $600 million this year in TIGER funding, including one for the Waterbury project and one for a new rail project in eastern Connecticut The members of the area's congressional delegation took turns congratulating each other, Gov. Dannel Malloy, and Mayor Neil M. O'Leary for landing the grant. "It really is a game-changer for this city," O'Leary said. "I realize it could be the single most important, and most transformational, moment I will have here as mayor." O'Leary said he had been warned that most cities do not land one of these grants on the first try, or even if they do, are lucky to even land half the funding they seek. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction continues at Seymour Fish Ladder

SEYMOUR -- At first glance, the rocky channel at the base of the Tingue Dam and Route 8 in Seymour might look like a branch of any other river. Passersby might wonder why construction crews have spent more than a year on the project taking shape there. Once complete, though, the Paul Pawlak Sr. Fish Bypass and Park at Tingue Dam will provide a variety of fish access to 26 additional miles of the Naugatuck River for them to swim upstream and spawn. "There's a method to our madness even though it looks so simple," said Steve Gephard, supervising fisheries biologist for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's Inland Fisheries Division. There are more than 60 fish bypasses statewide, but none are quite like the one being built in Seymour, Gephard said. Aside from a multimillion-dollar budget, the fish bypass was carefully researched and designed to be as natural as possible. Gephard said that James MacBroom, the lead engineer from Cheshire-based Milone & MacBroom, visited Vermont to study stream structure and riffle-pool relationships to incorporate into the project's design. The alternating patches of shallow and deep water naturally occur in the wild and help fish swim upstream. "This is totally artificial so it makes sense for us to mimic the conditions of the natural stream," Gephard said. "It's based on actual stream conditions." The bypass will help American shad, blueback herring, alewives and other fish species swim up from Long Island Sound to spawn. The $5.2 million project will allow these anadromous fish -- those born in fresh water, spend most of their life at sea and return to fresh water to spawn -- complete their lifecycle. It will be combined with a park for visitors to view the channel and access the river. "We expect it to be a destination," Gephard said. "We know that we're leaving this area a lot better than we found it." Gephard said it could take between four and seven years to see fish bypass's impact on the fish population. "It's after that that we expect we're going to see some changes because those fish that benefited from the new habitat will now themselves start coming back to the river," Gephard explained. "Our goal isn't to build fishways. It's to restore the fish population." Work started on the bypass last May. It was originally supposed to be completed this spring, but due to a few hiccups, the deadline has been now pushed back to Oct.15.

September 15, 2014

CT Construction Digest September 15, 2014

Governor Malloy touts $1.2B in road and transit work being out to bid

This fall the state will put out to bid $1.2 billion in transportation projects including the final phase of a project to replace worn out catenary wire on the New Haven Line, his office announced on Sunday.
In the announcement, Malloy’s administration estimated the $1.2 billion would equal 25,200 new construction and direct supplier jobs, or 21 jobs per $1 million.
The largest commitment in the package is $403 million for widening I-84 in Waterbury. The funding also includes $116 million for the last stretch of catenary installation on the New Haven line, and $70 million for new station construction in Wallingford, Berlin, and Meriden on the $880 million New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line.
Other projects touted in the package are:
*Road and safety improvements in Stratford-$29 million
*Replacement of four Route 8 bridges in Bridgeport, $41 million.
*Resurfacing of some 264 miles of roads around the state, $71 million
*Bus Maintenance Facility in Watertown, $85 million.

 Sewer work begins in central Greenwich

Work to replace a deteriorating sewer main carrying nearly all of Greenwich's sewage to the Grass Island Treatment Plant has begun following a series of emergency funding meetings last month. But while the financial hurdles have been cleared, the physical construction is set to cause a few headaches for motorists driving in central Greenwich.  Tests conducted in February confirmed Public Works officials' fears that wear on the main had reached critical levels and required immediate attention. The 50-year-old line carries almost all of the town's sewage -- some 8 million to 9 million gallons a day -- over Horseneck Brook and along Greenwich Harbor to the Grass Island Waste Water Treatment Plant. If the deteriorating pipe was to fail, Public Works officials say, millions of gallons of waste could be dumped into Long Island Sound, causing an environmental nightmare and leading to fines well in excess of the repair project's $5.6 million price tag. Barely two weeks after the RTM approved funding for the fix, work is underway, piggybacking on construction at the Shore Road Bridge over Horseneck Creek, which began Aug. 18.  "The first phase is to set up all the temporary bypass pumping and piping units to intercept the flow upstream of where we're doing the work and get it downstream to the plant," said Richard Feminella, manager of the town Wastewater Division.

Southington schools on schedule

SOUTHINGTON — The renovations to Joseph A. Depaolo and John F. Kennedy middle schools continue on schedule and on budget.
At a Town Council meeting last week, Town Manager Gary Brumback commended the Middle School Building Project Committee for a job well done. “Kudos to the entire committee,” he said. “They have managed these projects really well. Everything has remained on-budget ” Brumback said the construction crews were now working on renovating the gymnasium and classrooms. The technical education classrooms in Kennedy are still being renovated but they are completed in Depaolo school. “They are being built in a way so that even the non-complete places are student friendly.” Also discussed at the meeting was a modification to the town’s Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco Products Ordinance. These products must now be sold behind the counter, not placed in store windows. The new regulations will take effect in two weeks. “They will now be out of view of people who are too young to legally purchase them,” said Brumback CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NPU bringing natural gas to more and more customers

NORWICH — Most homeowners likely would react with horror at the prospect of a deep trench being cut through their property. But for almost 1,000 Norwich Public Utilities customers, that situation has been not only tolerated, but also eagerly embraced over the past year because of the payoff: Savings of almost $100 a month in energy costs because of a conversion to natural gas. “We’re so happy. You can really feel the difference in the house,” said Michel Robert, who switched his 1,200-square-foot home on Canterbury Turnpike to natural gas through NPU’s Energize Norwich program about a year ago. “I don’t have to kick out $1,000 three times a winter for heating oil.” This week marks the one-year anniversary of the initiative, a partnership between NPU, the state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, two local lenders and the nation’s largest clean energy marketing firm, which provides special financial incentives for people to switch their heating systems away from fossil fuels. CEFIA subsidized the campaign in its first year, and it now splits costs with NPU. Bob Wall, CEFIA's associate director of outreach, said the organization's Solarize Connecticut program resembles Norwich's gas initiative, and the collaboration presented a chance to expand. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Last remnants of New Haven's Q-Bridge coming down

NEW HAVEN >> This month will mark the final demise of the first Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge.
On Friday morning, drivers will get on a new ramp to exit from Interstate 95 southbound to Interstate 91 northbound. The old route ran over what was left of the old Quinnipiac bridge, and workers will start sending it to the landfill the same day. Vladimir Kaminsky, supervising engineer for the state Department of Transportation, described the new entry ramp: “This allows us to dismantle the old connection and build a temporary connection for I-95 south to I-91 north,” he said. While it’s temporary, the ramp will last about a year, he said.
Starting Friday, “We will dismantle, demolish the last piece of the Q bridge and it will be history,” Kaminsky said. Drivers in the New Haven area remember that, not long ago, Exits 48 and 47 — leading to I-91 and Route 34, respectively — left I-95 southbound as one ramp from just beyond the Q bridge and then split. Then a separate ramp to Route 34 opened. There will again be a single ramp to Exits 47 and 48, but the split will be marked by a large I-91 shield painted on the roadway, a device used in other areas but not in Connecticut until now, said John Dunham, assistant district engineer for the New Haven Harbor Crossing project. Because the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge is higher than the old, the new connection will go downhill at a 7-percent grade to meet with the I-91 bridge over Chapel Street, Kaminsky said. Late last week, the dirt and gravel roadway looked like a hill children would use for winter sledding. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Council delays vote on solar, fuel cell park in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT >> It will be a little while longer before city residents find out whether plans by The United Illuminating Co. to operate a renewable energy complex on the site of the community’s former landfill will be approved. The Connecticut Siting Council held a hearing Thursday night at City Hall and also toured the site where the park would be located. After spending more than two hours taking testimony, the council elected to continue the hearing Sept. 30 at the agency’s New Britain headquarters, said Melanie Bachman, the agency’s acting executive director. The Siting Council’s approval covers both a 2.8-megawatt fuel cell and a solar array with 9,000 panels on the landfill site. Bachman said that although hearing participants could have asked questions about or commented on the fuel cell portion of the projects, virtually all of the discussion at the hearing was about the solar panels. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE