May 29, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 29, 2015

EPA, Finch in push to develop AGI site

BRIDGEPORT -- Steps from the Steel Point development sits an abandoned, dilapidated factory that belies local officials' promises of a city on the rebound. Thanks to a federal grant, it could soon be gone.
Mayor Bill Finch announced Thursday that Bridgeport has received $200,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to tear down the former AGI Rubber Co. plant on Stratford Avenue, one of the most unsightly properties in a city with no shortage of them.
"This is happening right here at ground zero for economic development," Finch said. "This is a great day for Bridgeport."
The mayor said that the city will be pitching in to take down the decrepit plant, and that the demolition work would begin in the next few weeks.
"This is part of a brownfields program that began in 1994, and this year we had 21 proposals come in and only four of those were selected, this being one of them," said Curt Spalding, administrator for EPA's New England Region, in handing over an outsized check to Finch.
City officials say that getting rid of the old AGI plant is vital to the success of its Steel Point project because pedestrians from downtown need to walk past the depressing-looking buildings on their way to the development now taking shape on the lower East Side. The AGI buildings only served to make that trek seem more threatening. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

House backs move to start process for a new casino

HARTFORD — The House of Representatives voted early Friday to approve a bill that would start the process of authorizing a third casino in Connecticut, despite concerns about complicated legal issues that could derail any actual construction.
The bill, already approved by the Senate, would authorize a two-step process allowing towns to submit proposals for a casino to be jointly operated by the two Indian tribes that already run casinos in southeastern Connecticut. But building the casino would require another vote by the legislature, most likely in the next legislative session in February.
The House debated for about 90 minutes, starting after 10:30 p.m., before voting 88-55, with 8 members absent, in favor of the measure. It now goes to the governor.
Rep. Stephen Dargan, co-chairman of the committee overseeing gambling, began the debate by talking about the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, the thousands of jobs they have created over 20 years and the money that has poured into state coffers from slot machines under a revenue-sharing deal. The tribes originally proposed opening a new casino faster, but legal questions were raised that caused the ¿ legislature to put on the brakes. The idea was to open a casino to fend off competition from an $800 million MGM Resorts International casino under construction in Springfield. "We're slowing down the process immensely," Dargan said on the House floor. "This amendment before us is a first step." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Renaissance seeks another chance to pitch Bristol development plan

BRISTOL — Renaissance Downtowns wants another shot at getting the city behind its newest downtown revitalization plan.
The mayor is convening a special council meeting Monday night to hear the company's case for why it merits city financing. Renaissance wants to get the city's endorsement before June 10, its deadline to apply for $5 million in low-interest, long-term state financing.
The Long Island-based developer has faced increasingly stiff resistance from city officials, though, as new versions of its plan have grown smaller while shifting more of the financial risk to the city.
When the city gave Renaissance a contract in 2010 to be the chief coordinator of redeveloping the old Bristol Centre Mall property, the city was looking for the company to buy the 17 acres for $2.1 million. It expected Renaissance to line up a series of investors and developers to build Depot Square on the site, a project initially envisioned with 750 apartments for young professionals and empty-nester baby boomers, a 100-room business hotel, and rows of specialty shops and ethnic restaurants,
That plan included underground parking garages, rooftop gardens and a park-like plaza in the center of the property. At the time, company President Don Monti predicted to an audience of officials and taxpayers that downtown would become an urban centerpiece and a model for other communities. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NY developer sets sights on former CT Transit building in New Haven

NEW HAVEN >> Jason Carter, a wealthy New York developer smitten with New Haven, wants to add another piece of the city’s transportation history to his holdings.
He already owns the former Robby Len building at 1175 State St., that once served as a maintenance garage for trolleys through the mid-20th century. Carter now plans to bid on 470 James St., a 195,000-square-foot building that contained offices and a bus depot for CT Transit.
New Haven has put out a request for proposals to reuse the large light industrial site, where 100 drivers a day used to park their buses each night.
Closed since 2010, when CT Transit opened a new maintenance site in Hamden, the state tried in 2012 to attract a developer, but nothing came of it. New Haven Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson hopes the city, which is working with the state on the project, will be more successful this time, Carter of the Carter Management Corp. in New York City, said in addition to his involvement in real estate management and high-end developments, over his career he has restored nine national landmarks in that city. The CT Transit site is located across the street from the former trolley barn in Fair Haven, just off Exit 5 of Interstate 91.
Built in 1950 for the Connecticut Co., a private bus company, it was bought by the state in 1976 and the name was changed to CT Transit.  Carter, who has three grown children, said he was often in New Haven over a period of 10 to 12 years when they attended Yale University. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Legislators, Malloy hovering on brink of state budget deal

What do you call something that falls just short of a tentative deal on the next state budget?
On one hand, legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget staff still were hammering out the details of key tax issues late Thursday night. But the governor also was expected to visit the Capitol overnight to be briefed on the near-deal before leaving Friday for a political event in Oklahoma.
Majority Democrats in the House of Representatives gave their Republican counterparts a courtesy warning that a Saturday vote on the budget was anticipated.
But sources also said the soon-to-be-complete spending and revenue proposal for the next two fiscal years will face a very stiff test when it gets presented to House Democrats in a closed-door caucus — something likely to happen Friday or Saturday before any public floor debate. Moderate Democrats are expected to object to hundreds of millions in new taxes while liberal caucus members plan to push back against cuts to social services.
Tentative budget deals can unravel in caucus — and have in the past.
So just what has been agreed upon in this still incomplete outline of the next budget? Very few details on the spending side of the plan have been disclosed to date, though all parties acknowledge the bottom line will be less than the $40.5 billion, two-year plan recommended by the legislature’s Appropriations Committee. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Malloy targeting sales tax increase for transportation

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy cautioned legislative leaders in overnight budget talks against using a sales-tax increase for municipal aid, saying he sees the tax as a likely funding source for his ambitious transportation initiative, sources said Thursday.
The governor's warning is both a potential complication to budget negotiations and evidence he already has identified potential funding for a 30-year infrastructure overhaul, a task he gave to a special study group with an end-of-summer deadline.
Sources familiar with the talks said that Malloy, who met twice with Democratic legislative leaders in his office Wednesday night and again early Thursday in a meeting that ran past 3 a.m., raised cautions about Senate Bill 1, the Senate leadership's municipal aid measure.
Mark Ojakian, the governor’s chief of staff, acknowledged Thursday afternoon that using the sales tax to support the governor’s transportation infrastructure program is an element of the budget talks.
“There’s been a lot of discussions about what to do about Senate Bill 1 and the sales tax, and one of the thoughts is to partially devote it to transportation," Ojakian said. "There’s been a lot of conversations about what to do with that. Nothing’s been formalized or discussed seriously, because we’re not at that point yet. But there’s been a lot of things floated, and that’s one of them.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Nailed it

WATERBURY — Drivers who take the Exit 23 eastbound access ramp to the end, where they can either turn onto Hamilton Avenue or re-enter Interstate 84 just past the merge, may notice a ledge of soil being turned into a wall.
The work is part of the $298 million I-84 widening project between Washington Street and Pierpont Road. A soil nail wall is being built just west of the intersection of the off-ramp and Hamilton Avenue. The wall, made of steel mesh-reinforced concrete, will be attached to the earth-cut slope using threaded steel rods grouted into the soil, said Project Engineer Christopher Zukowski.
The wall is being constructed from the top down, in 3- to 6-foot increments, Zukowski said. A completion date has not been set. The soil nail wall will support the earth while a permanent retaining wall is constructed in front of it, he said. The retaining wall will sit along the I-84 Exit 23 eastbound off-ramp. It will be made of pre-cast concrete, fabricated by Doublewal Inc., a Plainville-based company. Constructing the soil nail wall won't result in any lane closures, but it will give motorists waiting in traffic at the end of the off-ramp a front row view of the action.
Look for an update on the project in the Sunday Republican.     

May 28, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 28, 2015

New Greenwich High auditorium almost ready for its debut

Construction of Greenwich High School's new auditorium -- the source of much drama in the past few years -- is at last in its final act.
From the outside, the project looks almost complete. A brick base and gray-beige metal paneling cover the building.
Step inside, and the venue still has building props all about -- scaffolding, ladders, stacked boxes of lighting fixtures and droning fans to dry up wall plaster.
A cast of about 65, in a range of trades, still work daily at the site.
But school officials are no longer fretting about completing the project known as MISA. What was just a steel skeleton of an auditorium a year ago has filled out. Visitors can easily walk around the entire complex, which will seat 1,325. The stage is built, concrete has been poured for all three seating levels, and sunbeams now shoot through the skylights in the spacious "galleria" lobby.
"We're very excited," said Leslie Moriarty, a member of the MISA building committee. "A lot of progress has been made. There are a lot of people who are working very hard to get everything done."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

6 things to know about new plan to transform downtown Meriden

MERIDEN — With the deadline for a downtown transformation plan approaching by the end of this year, officials have developed a draft of the plan they’ll present at a community meeting next week. Here’s what you need to know about the plan beforehand:
1. It focuses on implementation goals.
The draft plan outlines a timetable for beginning and finishing work on the various housing and mixed-use buildings coming to the city’s Choice Neighborhood. The city, Meriden Housing Authority and other organizations tied to the redevelopment expect much of the work to be done in the next five years, according to the draft plan.
This includes work on a mixed-use building and parking garage at 24 Colony St., razing the Mills Memorial Apartment complex, redeveloping five city-owned parcels downtown, construction another mixed-use building at 143 W. Main St. and renovating the Yale Acres housing complex.
“We had to come up with a transformation plan that’s workable, that’s concrete, and that can be done without federal funding,” said Brian Daniels, chairman of the City/MHA joint planning group for the Choice Neighborhood initiative.
“We can do this, if we have to, on our own. This is a practical, realistic, effective set of solutions and strategies,” he said.
2. Here’s the timeline.
Construction by the Westmount Development Group and MHA on the project at 24 Colony St. is expected to start imminently and be completed by the end of 2016 with tenants signing leases in 2017. Demolition and rebuilding at the Mills Apartments is expected to take place over two years starting in 2016, with construction by Pennrose Properties occurring in various stages between 2017-2019.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
NORWICH - All eyes are on the House.
One of the most important pieces of legislation to come before the General Assembly is in the hands of its lower chamber – and officials from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal councils are unsure of its fate. “I believe there is a great deal of support in the House for the bill,” Mohegan Tribal Council director of external affairs Chuck Bunnell Jr., said Wednesday of Senate Bill 1090, which would authorize the tribes to issue a request for proposals for the construction of a jointly-run casino in the state. It’s a diluted bill from what proponents hoped when the session began with a provision originally calling for licenses to build three gaming facilities across Connecticut as a way to thwart competition from casinos in bordering states. Earlier Wednesday, Mashantucket Pequot spokesman William Satti said officials are still counting whether they have the 76 House votes needed to push the measure forward. “The votes are very close,” Satti, public affairs director for the tribal council, told the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments. “I think the latest revamped bill will allow us to continue the discussion.” Lawmakers also must approve any development deal that is reached, promising a second round of votes in the Legislature. For that reason, state Rep. Kevin Ryan, D-Montville, and other legislators believe the bill will move through the House by midnight on June 3, when the session adjourns. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
SOUTH WINDSOR — The Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday unanimously approved an application for a second building on the site of a new distribution center at a Sullivan Avenue industrial park.
Indiana-based developer Scannell Properties received approval for a 167,763-square-foot distribution facility on 13.8 acres of property on the Sullivan Avenue Industrial Park, at 175 Sullivan Ave.
Prior to the application's approval, the commission heard from residents during a public hearing on the matter. A few residents touted the benefits of the plan, saying it will bring new jobs to town and improve the tax base.
Roughly the same number spoke in opposition, citing noise pollution and traffic issues.
Town Councilor Stephen Wagner, the town council's liaison to the commission, said the new facility will have both refrigerated and dry storage, which means some refrigerated trucks will be coming in and out of the area. Concerns were raised surrounding the noise produced by those trucks' diesel engines. "The claim by the applicants is this noise is well within any limits," Wagner said.
In March, town officials unanimously approved a resolution to offer a 70 percent tax abatement to Scannell.
The abatement will, according to the resolution, offer Scannell an incentive to develop a three-lot industrial subdivision on the land. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Affordable energy bill advances

The state Senate passed a bill late Wednesday to drive down Connecticut’s high electricity costs, particularly during winter and other peak demand periods.
The measure, which passed 25-8 and now heads to the House of Representatives, allows the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to solicit proposals for long-term contracts with generating facilities for power which would be purchased by the state's electricity distribution companies.
“To just say ‘no,’ is not an answer,” said Sen. Paul Doyle, D-Wethersfield, who said ignoring the high cost of electricity is not acceptable. “We have to come to a conclusion.”
The bill would not limit DEEP to pursue contracts with generating facilities that burn natural gas. But it would give the state an opportunity to expand its use of that fuel, Doyle said.
Though Connecticut has made strides addressing the growing demand for natural gas, it is expected to grow considerably more over the next decade, particularly for electricity generation plants, Doyle said.
“While we have the demand going up for natural gas, primarily from our generators, the supply has not gone up correspondingly,” said Doyle, who co-chairs the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee.
He added that Connecticut particularly has paid the price for this lack of energy diversity in the winter months, when natural gas supplies often are low. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


May 27, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 27, 2015

West Old Mill Road bridge closed for repairs beginning late June

Ken Borsuk
West Old Mill Road will be closed temporarily next month for a bridge replacement slated to begin in late June and end at the end of the year.
The bridge carries West Old Mill Road over the east branch of the Byram River. An approximately three-mile detour will be in place using Round Hill Road, Porchuck Road and North Porchuck Road.
Construction is expected to begin around June 22 and should be completed in December.
Detour signs are expected to be erected around the time the construction begins.
The bridge was first built in 1937 and was rebuilt around 1960, according to town Senior Civil Engineer Frank Petise. He said the existing stone masonry parapets will be replaced with cast-in-concrete ones that will make use of the existing stones. The outer edges of the concrete deck will be replaced and the existing steel girders will be blasted, cleaned and painted.
Petise said the bridge's current structure does not meet state Department of Transportation and federal standards for crash protection. He said there had been several accidents where the bridge was struck by drivers which affected the bridge structure.
A new guiderail will also be installed as part of the project.
Cost for the replacement is estimated at $450,000. Petise said the project is out to bid. The June 22 start date was chosen because Greenwich Public Schools will be on summer break by then.

Lyman Hall to receive eight lane track / artifical field

WALLINGFORD — The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to move forward with construction of an athletic complex at Lyman Hall High School that consists of an eight-lane track, artificial turf field and emergency lighting system.
The project will cost about $2.4 million and will be paid through bonding. Comptroller James Bowes told councilors the town will be paying for the project for about 15 years.  
A public hearing for the bid ordinance will be held June 9.
School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo, Board of Education Chairwoman Roxane McKay, Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula and the architect for the project fielded CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE
GLASTONBURY — An independent geotechnical firm hired by the town has confirmed that the use of riprap along the banks of the Connecticut River will protect the Riverfront Park's $2 million boathouse for decades.
During a presentation to the town council Tuesday, Allen Marr, founder and CEO of Geocomp, reviewed the history of drainage and soil movement problems at the new Riverfront Park along with potential solutions. In July, the town will install small and medium-size rocks known as riprap to prevent any movement in the slope the boathouse is built on top of.
"With this material in place, I'm confident we have the slope protected from the river's low and high water," Marr told the council, adding the repairs will keep the slope in place for 50 or more years.
Town Manager Richard J. Johnson said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has approved the project and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is finalizing its review. Three bids from companies have been received and the town is reviewing them, Johnson said. A plan — and cost — will be recommended at the council's June 9 meeting. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE

Another highway funding patch put in place

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress has sent President Barack Obama a bill to keep highway and transit aid flowing to states for another two months and prevent shutdown of summer construction projects.
The Senate approved the bill by voice vote early Saturday; the measure passed the House earlier in the week. Authority to spend money from the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances most aid to states, was due to expire May 31.
It's the 33rd time in more than six years that Congress has resorted to a temporary patch to keep transportation programs going, 12 bills specific to highway and transit programs and 21 other more general measures designed to keep the Transportation Department and other government agencies open. The repeated fixes are a reflection of lawmakers' continuing lack of consensus on how to solve the nation's infrastructure financing woes.
While Obama is expected to sign the measure, White House spokesman Josh Earnest urged lawmakers to use the two months to negotiate a long-term bill
``After all, you hear regularly from Republicans about the ... economic benefits of certainty,' Earnest said. ``And in this case, the economic benefits of certainty in terms of our infrastructure investments would benefit the job market and the economy in communities all across the country.'
The uncertainty over whether federal aid will be forthcoming has cause several states to cancel or delay tens of millions of dollars in construction projects
The trust fund relies on revenue from the federal 18.4-cents-a-gallon gasoline and the 24.4-cents-a-gallon diesel taxes, but fuel taxes haven't been increased since 1993. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE

Hoover Dam: A symbol of simple strength

In 1931, while the United States was flat on its back in the Great Depression, the country rose from the mat, flexed its muscles and began building the mighty Hoover Dam, not only taming the angry, flood-prone, Colorado River but also demonstrating the distressed nation’s determination to survive economic fear.
A curved solid concrete structure conveying simple strength as it blocks the cleft between the walls of Black Canyon, the dam extends 1,244 ft. (379.2 m) between the canyon walls and is 726.4 ft. (221.3 m) high, with a concrete base 660 ft. (201 m) thick and a two-lane highway on top. Hoover contains 3,250,000 cu. yds. (2.6 million cu m) of concrete, which has been compared to the amount of concrete in a 16-ft.-wide (4.9 m) highway between Pensacola, Fla., and Seattle, Wash.
The awesome, graceful wall of concrete was built by men who swung over canyon walls, stacked large concrete forms atop each other hundreds of feet above the ground and slogged through wet concrete to maintain consistent quality.
Ninety-six construction workers died at the work site, and numerous others in hospitals after accidents during the project. (The contractors didn’t count hospital deaths in the tally.)
Hoover Dam entered the national psyche, such a symbol of hope in a time of national distress that it was featured on the cover of Life Magazine in the 1930s. CLICK TITLE TO CONTIUNUE

More details coming on world's largest fuel cell park

BEACON FALLS — Town officials and the public will get another opportunity next month to ask questions about the proposed largest fuel cell park in the world.
The 66.3-megawatt fuel cell energy park is being proposed by CT Energy & Technology, a limited liability corporation owned by O&G Industries of Torrington. If built, the park will be larger than the current title holder, a 59-megawatt fuel cell park in South Korea.
The project was presented to town officials, including members of the town's Land Use Commission and the Board of Selectmen, in late April. Developers plan to go before the Land Use Commission at a meeting on June 24 to present the project in greater detail and answer questions from the public.
The presentation to the Commission will be done just before a formal permitting application process begins in late June with the Connecticut Siting Council, said William Corvo, head of William Corvo Consultants and managing member of CT Energy & Technology.
"We'll have all the answers to all the questions," Corvo said. If the project receives all required permits, construction could begin in 2016 and take three years to complete. The energy park is expected to generate about $90 million in local and state taxes. Information to be presented at the June 24 meeting includes more detailed engineering plans for the project, as well as the level of noise and steam generated by it. First Selectman Christopher Bielik said he expects CT Energy & Technology to begin the local permitting process in July with applications to various land use boards.
"So far the buzz on the street has been nothing but positive," Bielik said. The project is being proposed for a 23.8-acre site off Lopus Road owned by O&G Industries. The fuel cell park will take up only about 8 acres of the parcel. The site drops about 50 feet from the nearest residential street on Gruber Road. It is currently a brownfield often used by people trespassing with ATVs and dirt bikes.
FuelCell Energy Inc. of Danbury and Torrington is expected to produce the fuel cells. CT Energy & Technology has signed a letter of intent with FuelCell to produce the fuel cells for the park, officials from both companies have said. Fuel cells are considered a renewable energy source in Connecticut. Much like large batteries, fuel cells use an electrochemical process to combine hydrogen found in abundance in natural gas with oxygen from the atmosphere. The process produces water and heat. The project, financed by private funds, will produce enough energy to power more than 60,000 Connecticut homes.     



May 26, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 26, 2015

Eastern Greenwich neighborhood plan has critics

Eastern Greenwich's neighborhoods could have more senior housing, more restaurants and better parking along Sound Beach Avenue, according to a preliminary neighborhood plan presented to the public on Thursday.
But more than a score of people who came out to hear what BFJ Planning had to say after the company collected information from several public workshops and an online survey had other suggestions they said they felt weren't getting proper attention, from building regulations to back-in parking.
The Eastern Greenwich Neighborhood Plan, which looks at Old Greenwich, Riverside and North Mianus, comes after ones previously done for Byram and Cos Cob. The plans were created to help the town's neighborhoods keep their distinct character while providing a guide to future development and improvements.
BFJ Planning's report included potential zoning revisions that could help the town to develop senior housing; touched on improvements to Binney Park, land along the Mianus River and the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center; and suggested ways to handle potential flooding.
For some in attendance at the meeting, the suggested improvements didn't go far enough or would not be in place fast enough to keep current problems from getting worse.
Frank Fennell was one of several residents who wanted the town to take immediate action on a problem already in dispute in his neighborhood: builders using fill to elevate their homes illegally. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

How box turtles use the $1M tunnel built for them

When the Route 7 bypass opened in 2009, commuters cheered. They could escape the clogged section of Route 7 in Brookfield and New Milford, and speed on their way on a serious highway. Driving north out of Danbury, or south into it, became a much less dismal trip.
But if you are a box turtle, a slimy salamander or some of the other wildlife along the 2.3-mile highway corridor, life has changed. How much may never be known for sure.
The environmental study of the corridor is ending this month, when students from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury make their last field trips to the corridor, looking for salamanders. The state Department of Transportation grant that paid for their work is ending.
"They'll get out by May 30,'' said Theodora Pinou, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences at Western, who has overseen the students' work. "But five years of study is not enough.''
Likewise, Dennis Quinn, of Connecticut Herpetology, said his study of the wildlife using the culvert under the highway would be better if it could be extended out over decades.
"If you could look at it over 20 years -- five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, then there would be pieces that could be answered,'' Quinn said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Northeast marinas scramble to repair winter damage

GLASTONBURY — The deep freeze that gripped the Northeast last winter dealt a severe blow to marinas and yacht clubs: Ice snapped pilings in half, shredded wooden docks and left behind wreckage that many compare to the effects of a hurricane.
After a scramble to get ready for the all-important Memorial Day weekend, most marinas are back in business, although many are behind schedule and still in need of costly repairs to operate at full capacity.
"It’s been tough. It’s been very tough. The marina was destroyed," said Mindy Kahl, co-owner of Birbarie Marine on a river in Branford, Connecticut. "We will be operational this weekend but nowhere near where we should be."
Hardest hit were yards in rivers and coves that became choked with ice during a record-breaking stretch of frigid weather through February. Crews fought the ice with chain saws and devices that circulate warm water up from below the surface, often to no avail. As the ice rose and fell with the tide, it wrecked pilings and tore apart docks.
Veterans of the waterfront say the damage is the worst they’ve seen in decades.
Peter Morris, general manager of the Bay Pointe Marina in Quincy, Massachusetts, has had two crews working six days a week to repair damage that he estimates at $1.2 million. The ice pushed his marina off its steel pilings several feet out into a river.
"It’s put us a behind about a month and a half," he said.
Since the thaw, demand has been running high for marine construction workers, cranes and replacement pilings — with a run on long, wooden poles in coastal New England sending some CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
MERIDEN — Earth movers and backhoes roll through the downtown Hub placing rocks along the sides of the soon-to-be single channel, while others grade the earth on both sides of the 14-acre future park. Workers are building concrete and rock abutments on State and Pratt streets, and two center piers to support the pedestrian bridge that will take visitors from one side of the park to the other. 
All the current work is preparing for three diversions that will merge Clark, Jordan and Harbor brooks into the center channel, expected to happen in mid- to late July.
The landscaped park, with its large pedestrian bridge, amphitheater and walkways, is expected to be completed at the end of the year.
“On the State Street side we’re going to open the earth to a box culvert and punch a hole into a new channel to allow Clark Brook to flow into Harbor Brook,” Public Works Director Robert Bass said last week. “They’re going to continue grading, finalizing the electrical plan for lights on the parcel.”
A lighting and irrigation control room will be housed in the ground floor area of the abutment on Pratt Street, which also serves as the stairway and ramp to the pedestrian bridge. Workers have already begun setting the concrete and wire conduits for the electrical connection. A longer ramp and stairwell will run parallel to State Street on the other side of the park.
The control area will house the foundation for lighting and irrigating systems for the lawn and landscaping. The park watering will be in zones, but the entire park, its bridges and walkways will be illuminated, Bass said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 Construction on the southbound section of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven on 5/22/2015.  Photo by Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
NEW HAVEN >> The concrete is poured, the gap closed. The second half of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge is solid from end to end. There are still roads to be connected and other bridges to be finished before traffic is moved onto the bridge, likely sometime in October. But completing the last section of the deck — two sides meeting in the middle — is “a real good feeling, because the bridge is done,” said Matt Briggs, project engineer for the state Department of Transportation, as the wet concrete was being smoothed out.
As the last “pour” was completed, the concrete crew from Walsh Construction/PCL posed for a photo, then dumped a bucket of water on their foreman, John Santos. Briggs said the two sides met in the middle just the way they were designed to, with each segment about 14.5 feet long, poured by a “spider” and using machinery called form travelers that moved along as each section was done. “When an engineering plan actually works real well, it’s just a good feeling,” Briggs said. “The form of the bridge is almost perfect. It came together as they planned right in middle” with “an uneventful close pour, which is good for us.” Next, the parapets can be installed and the surface, a “latex-modified concrete” with a light color to go with the overall memorial theme of the bridge. Then, diamond grinders will cut grooves on the pavement in the direction of travel to aid drainage and traction and resist hydroplaning. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

FedEx considers Middletown's old Aetna site for distribution center

MIDDLETOWN >> Shipping and distribution company FedEx filed an inland wetlands application Friday to purchase a 239.5-acre site between Middle Street and Industrial Park Road. In an online message, Mayor Daniel Drew said he was “pleased” that FedEx filed the application to build a Northeast regional distribution center on the former Aetna site. “Middletown has been long committed to responsible and robust growth in our business sector,” Drew wrote. “Our goal is to attract strong and reputable companies that will add value to our community, create jobs, and work to provide an important service while being good members of our community.” City Planning Director Michiel Wackers said FedEx filed the application to see if it is able to get approval in Middletown, but it does not necessarily reflect a commitment from the company. Both Drew and Wackers said FedEx will not discuss its commitment to a site until all approvals are made and transactions are closed as a matter of company policy, but Wackers said he believes FedEx is also looking at locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts as options for the distribution center. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Steel beams define progress at courthouse in Torrington
TORRINGTON >> The long-awaited Litchfield Judicial District Courthouse is one step closer to completion. KBE Building Corp., the company overseeing the $67.8 million project, has begun erecting structural steel for the new building superstructure. Each added beam and column is helping to define the shape of this new building located on Field Street, close to downtown Torrington.
“I’m so pleased with the progress we are making on this project,” said Commissioner Melody A. Currey. “The Torrington area has been waiting for this for a long time, and we are finally seeing the courthouse going up right before our eyes. The legislative delegation from Litchfield County worked for decades to get this project authorized, and Governor (Dannel) Malloy finally gave it the green light. We look forward to a smooth construction season this summer and lots more progress to come.” KBE serves as design-builder and constructor for the project, which encompasses the following new construction: CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


May 22, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 22, 2015

Brookfield recreation project nears completion

BROOKFIELD -- The last thing beachgoers want to see on the sand at their favorite beach is a construction crane.
But once work is completed at the Town Beach off Candlewood Lake Road -- and at Cadigan Park across the street -- First Selectman Bill Tinsley says the town "will have one of the premier recreational areas in the state."
The $5.3 million revitalization project, which increases the usable area of both park and beach, was approved by the town in September 2013. The work is still under way, but Director of Parks and Recreation Dennis DiPinto said it looks like the project will come in according to budget, and that what was becoming a rundown facility will look fresh and modern again. CLICK  TITLE TO CONTINUE

CNG gas line expansion largest in three decades

EAST HAMPTON >> With expressions of thanks and expectations of good things to come, ground was formally broken Thursday for a nine-mile extension of natural gas service into and through East Hampton. Work on the extension by Connecticut Natural Gas is already well underway in portions of both Portland and East Hampton. But the late morning event, which was held in front of the headquarters of the American Distilling Co., on East Main Street provided an opportunity for CNG, American Distilling and town officials to publicly signal their commitment and support for the project. And not just any project, according to Anthony Marone, CNG’s senior vice president for customer and business services.
“This is the largest expansion CNG has done over the last three decades,” Marone said. And it comes amidst a surge in CNG’s commitment to expand natural gas service in the Connecticut River Valley area, Marone said. Even as work continues to push the pipeline east from Portland, work is also continuing in Essex and is about to expand into Deep River as well, Marone said. The Deep River project will be CNG’s “third new community in three years,” said Ed Crowder, a spokesman for UIL Holdings Corp., CNG’s parent company. CLICK TITLE  TO CONTINUE

Groton holds first community forum on new school construction plan

Groton — About 40 people attended the first of two community meetings Thursday on a proposal to build one new middle school and two new elementary schools at a cost to local taxpayers of $94.8 million.
The proposal, called the Groton 2020 Plan, would build a new 169,000-square-foot middle school next to Robert E. Fitch High School to create a campus environment, then build two new 86,000-square-foot elementary schools at the site of Carl C. Cutler and West Side middle schools.
The plan would reduce the total number of schools in Groton from 10 to 8, closing Pleasant Valley, Claude Chester and S.B. Butler elementary schools, which are an average of 62 years old.
Superintendent Michael Graner told the audience Groton has a "looming problem" in its public schools and must make them more effective, competitive and racially balanced. "We are inefficient," he said. "We have a racial imbalance problem that people are not interested in solving with another squiggling of lines."
The second community meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 28 in the Town Hall Annex.
The hour-long presentation focused on the need to improve educational quality by providing modern schools rather than spending more money to upgrade decades-old buildings. Attending to the capital needs of Groton's existing elementary schools alone would cost the district about $27 million, the presenters explained. CLICK TITLE  TO CONTINUE

May 21, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 21, 2015

Senior housing community coming to Newington

NEWINGTON — Newington’s plan and zoning commission recently sanctioned a senior living community to be built on the corner of Russell Road and East Cedar Street, and it is expected to have wide-ranging benefits.
Newington Economic Development Director Andy Brecher estimated the property will generate $1.7 million in annual tax revenue to the town once fully constructed. That would likely make it the town’s largest taxpayer.
“It is potentially a much needed shot in the arm,” he said. “It will be an impressive building at the northern gateway of our community, it will provide job opportunities for up to 400 people and it will also provide an option for many of our residents to be able to continue to live in Newington as they age.”
Amara Community Living Development, LLC, expects to break ground late this summer on the 260-unit facility. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), it will accommodate both assisted and independent living, memory-care support, hospice and skilled nursing.
An adult day care program will serve an additional 30 clients, and the campus will feature restaurants, shops, walking trails, a pool, fitness and recreation centers, on-site physicians and more.
Company officials say they would like to eventually offer some of these services to town residents, including the pool, spa and possibly an outdoor amphitheater. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CNG begins 10-mile expansion in East Hampton

Connecticut Natural Gas is undertaking its first main expansion project in more than a decade, bringing service to this Middlesex County community later this year.
The 10-mile extension of gas main will allow the town and one of its major businesses — American Distilling — to reduce their energy costs. The extension project started in mid-April in Portland, but Connecticut Natural Gas just recently began its extension work in East Hampton, said Ed Crowder, a spokesman for utility company’s corporate parent, UIL Holdings.
Construction should be finished in the summer and gas should be turned on for East Hampton customers in time for the fall heating season,” Crowder said. Town officials and the utility will hold a ground-breaking ceremony for the project on Thursday.
The expansion of CNG’s distribution network into East Hampton is the result of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which included plans to expand 900 miles of natural gas lines to 280,000 customers over the next 10 years. The expansion project is now in its second year, having been approved by state utility regulators in November 2013. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Senate OK's casino bill

HARTFORD — The Senate voted narrowly late Wednesday to start the process of authorizing a third casino in Connecticut, although proceeding on a cautious path that would buy the state more time to sort out complicated legal issues.
The Senate passed the revised bill, 20-16. It would allow towns to submit proposals for a casino that would be jointly operated by two Indian tribes in southeastern Connecticut. But building the casino would require another vote by the legislature, possibly in the next legislative session next year.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Attorneys for the tribes don't share the same concerns as Jepsen, but legislative leaders say they are listening to Jepsen because he represents the state's interests.
Jepsen's main concerns are that allowing a casino to be built on non-tribal land could raise the risk of violating the state's compacts with the tribes and jeopardizing the slot machine money that has poured into the state's coffers from a revenue-sharing deal with the tribes.
A second concern is if the Pequots and Mohegans are allowed to build another casino off tribal land, what would happen if more Connecticut tribes are given federal recognition? CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Middletown to seek more money for pump station construction

MIDDLETOWN — City officials said they will need to ask voters to approve additional funding to build the pump station that will link the city with the Mattabassett District for sewage treatment.
In March, the city received only one bid for the construction of the pump station. That bid, for $28.9 million, was about $5 million above the budget for the project.
Mayor Daniel Drew said Wednesday that the city would seek new bids, but that the common council will need to ask voters to approve additional funding in a referendum question in November. Drew said it is not clear yet how much more funding will be needed. He said the city's goal is to seek new bids later this year or in early 2016.
Voters approved $37 million in 2012 for the pump station and a pipeline to the Mattabassett facility in Cromwell, and the common council approved another $3 million in 2014 after the water and sewer department said initial engineering estimates for the pump station component were inadequate.
The station will be built on East Main Street at the site of the fire training center.
Officials said they have been looking into the factors that may have led to only one firm bidding on the job. Drew said in March that a few larger projects in the state were also out for bid at the same time which may have been a higher priority for contractors. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Roads added improvement project in Vernon

The Vernon Town Council voted to add more roads to its maintenance schedule for this summer's construction season, as the overall project is running under budget.
Bamforth Road, Cemetery Road and the lower section of Hatch Hill Road will also be resurfaced, along with the 52 scheduled roads in the bond package for this year. Sixteen roads, Public Works Director Robert Kleinhans said, have already been done this year.
The improvements on Hatch Hill Road were deferred from a prior public improvement project until the completion of sewer work, which is now complete.
Officials said that Bamforth and Cemetery Roads had deteriorated more rapidly than expected, necessitating their being moved up on the improvement matrix.
The combined cost of all three roads is $607,252, but savings from the overall road improvements in town will more than cover the cost.
Councilman Michael Winkler asked if adding the roads would detract from improvement of other roads, and if the progress of the bond package indicates that it would still finish on time. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Crowd turns out to slam proposed Tweed runway expansion

NEW HAVEN >> Tweed New Haven Regional Airport officials looking to build community support to pave runway safety areas to extend the usable length of Tweed’s main runway for takeoffs got an earful from wound-up East Shore and East Haven residents Wednesday night.
In the first community meeting on the renewed push by Mayor Toni Harp and the Tweed New Haven Airport Authority to move the airport forward by providing 6,100 feet of usable runway, officials heard familiar complaints about noise and fumes and planes flying low overhead.
But they also heard repeated complaints that residents, after hearing Tweed officials just a few years ago — when Tweed was trying to put in the safety areas — pledge that the airport would never pave the grassy safety areas, and don’t feel they can trust Tweed now.
Well over 100 people crammed into the old terminal at Tweed, at one point filling most of its available space, including a staircase overlooking the action. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

May 20, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 20, 2015

CT under pressure to raise gas tax

In nearly two-thirds of states, state-imposed fuel taxes have not kept up with inflation for two decades, according to a Governing analysis of state gas tax data reported to the U.S. Census Bureau. That is forcing legislators around the country to consider raising gas taxes or exploring other ways to increase transportation spending, as Congressional action on adjusting the federal portion of the gas tax to meet infrastructure needs remains stalled.
As Connecticut – with among the nation’s highest gas taxes – contemplates embarking on a decades-long comprehensive transportation infrastructure upgrade, how to fund the likely record-setting fiscal requirements has been assigned to a task force to consider and propose recommendations.  Earlier this month, Michigan voters resoundingly defeated a measure — 80 percent voted “no” — to hike gas taxes and make many other changes to boost state transportation spending, Governing reported. Last fall, Massachusetts voters recinded (with 53% of the vote) a law that would have automatically tied gas tax rates to inflation.  The law had been passed by the state legislature in 2013.
Connecticut’s gas tax, increased most recently by about 4 cents per gallon in July 2013, based on legislation approved previously – a step not taken by many other states in recent years. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy reported earlier this year that 22 states hadn’t raised their gas taxes in more than a decade, according to Governing.  Connecticut is not among them. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Measure to protect transportation fund one step closer

Connecticut voters may get the chance to weigh in on a “lock box” measure that would prevent state government from siphoning money from the Special Transportation Fund to cover other General Fund expenses.
A bill that would send to referendum a constitutional amendment protecting transportation funds cleared the Government Administration and Elections Committee on Tuesday. It’s now on the House calendar.
Three Republicans and one Democrat voted against the bill.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used much of this year’s State of the State address to advocate for a “lock box” to prevent lawmakers from diverting funds collected for transportation projects. The governor framed the policy as a prerequisite to collecting additional revenue to fund a 30-year plan to upgrade Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure.
The bill was one of two Malloy filed to create a lock box. One is a change in statute that he could sign into law if it’s approved by the legislature. It was sent to the House by the Transportation Committee last month. The constitutional amendment would need to be approved by voters after the legislature either passed it with a super majority or passed it two years in a row. In either case, it takes more than one year to amend the constitution.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

US home construction rises at fastest pace since 2007

U.S. homebuilders ramped up construction in April to the fastest pace in nearly seven-and-a-half years, hinting at newfound momentum for an economy that has struggled in recent months.
The Commerce Department said Tuesday that housing starts last month increased 20.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million homes. That pace ranks as the fastest clip since November 2007. Builders appear to have finally shaken off a turbulent winter that shut down construction sites and hampered growth across the economy. The sharp increase indicates that growth might accelerate after being close to flat in the first quarter. It also suggests that builders are responding to tight inventories of existing homes and increased buyer demand due to strong hiring over the past year and low mortgage rates.
Housing starts surged in the Northeast, Midwest and West, while slipping slightly in the South. Construction of single-family houses climbed 16.7 percent in April, an indication that sales of new homes should also rise in the coming months. Apartment building shot up 31.9 percent. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Southington PZC approves senior apartments for downtown

SOUTHINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously granted a special permit Tuesday for an 86-unit senior housing complex in downtown Southington.
Local developer Mark Lovley plans to build a four-story, 86-unit senior apartment building off Eden Avenue on Forgione Drive. A special permit is required to build apartments in the central business zone.
Lovley said he hopes to begin construction early next year. He still needs a site plan approval from the town as well as other approvals.
At its last meeting, the commission tabled the application for a special permit to give Lovley time to develop new renderings of the proposed building. The commission also held a public hearing on the development. No one spoke against the plan and one resident spoke in favor.
Lovley has a contract with the Forgione family to buy three acres of land in the center of the area bounded by Eden Avenue, Main Street, Liberty Street and Columbus Avenue. Three houses on the land on Forgione Drive will be demolished to make way for the apartments.
The 100,000-square-foot, four-story building will help address the need for housing downtown, Lovley said. Senior housing, in particular, is in high demand. The town’s housing authority has a waiting list of 180 seniors looking for housing. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
GRISWOLD — The Inlands, Wetlands and Watercourses Conservation Commission and Aquifer Protection Agency is set to make a decision Thursday concerning a company that residents say has been in violation of its operating agreement with the town for years. In December, asphalt company American Industries, submitted an application for permits to install changes to the property that would deal with noise and pollution issues that have bothered residents on Johnson Cove and Fairview Avenue for decades. Fabiola Proulx and her husband, Earl, have lived in the same house on Fairview Avenue for 43 years. Throughout their four decades there, they say American Industries has created noise and air pollution that have changed their quiet neighborhood. “We can’t even open our windows or enjoy our deck because of the smell,” Fabiola Proulx said. It’s “like if you spill a whole tank of gasoline.” And the issues with the company have gotten steadily worse, the Proulxs said,
“Definitely in the last five to eight years they’ve really picked up,” Fabiola Proulx said. A year and a half ago, residents started complaining to town and state officials. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
East Hartford utility Connecticut Natural Gas will break ground Thursday on a new 10-mile natural gas pipeline expansion into East Hampton, marking the first time the town's businesses and residents can use the fuel for heat.
The expansion into East Hampton was driven by several local business expressing an interest in natural gas, as well as the town government saying it wanted the fuel. The groundbreaking will be at pharmaceutical manufacturer American Distilling.
Connecticut's Comprehensive Energy Strategy calls on state regulators and utilities to make natural gas the home heating fuel of choice among businesses and residents, replacing fuel oil.
Between the state's three major natural gas utilities – CNG, Eversource Energy, and Southern Connecticut Gas – the plan is to add 280,000 natural gas customers by 2023.

Revised bill could push casino decision to 2016

HARTFORD — The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a revised bill that would delay the pace of building a new tribal casino and also require a second approval vote that could be pushed into next year.
Senate leaders expect the bipartisan bill to pass the 36-member chamber, where legislators on both sides of the aisle have been split on the idea of building another casino to battle out-of-state competition.
The revised bill creates a two-step process in which towns would submit proposals to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who have discussed building a jointly operated facility in northern Connecticut to compete with an $800 million MGM Resorts International casino in Springfield that is under construction. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Senate expected to vote today on casinos

The state Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a two-step process that will slow down the pace of building another Indian casino to combat out-of-state competition.
Top Senate leaders expect the bipartisan bill to pass in the 36-member chamber, where various lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are split on the issue.
The bill creates a process in which towns would submit proposals to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, which will be building a joint facility in northern Connecticut to battle competition from an under-construction MGM Resorts International casino in Springfield. After the tribes decide on the winner of the request for proposals, the state legislature would vote again to approve the winner of the competition.
If there is no special session to approve the winner this year, the second vote could be pushed into the next regular session that begins in February 2016, officials said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

House passes fix for highway aid

WASHINGTON — States would continue to receive highway and transit aid for another two months under a bill the House passed Tuesday, the 12th such temporary patch in six years and a reflection of lawmakers' lack of consensus on how to solve the nation's infrastructure financing woes.
The bill was approved by a vote of 387 to 35. The current authorization to spend money from the federal Highway Trust Fund, which finances most aid to states, expires May 31. A Senate vote is expected later this week.
The fund relies on revenue from the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax, but the tax hasn't been increased since 1993 and the money it brings in isn't enough to cover transportation spending. But most lawmakers are reluctant to raise it, seeing that as unpopular with voters.
Unable to find a politically acceptable solution, Congress has kept the trust fund teetering on the edge of insolvency since 2008. The extension passed by the House would expire July 31, when many lawmakers say they expect to go through the same exercise again.
Several top House and Senate Republicans have indicated they hope to find enough money to put an end to the temporary patches as part of a larger effort to rewrite tax laws. But broad tax legislation is notoriously difficult to pass even without the complication of finding a transportation spending solution.
"If we don't change something, we'll be right back here in July talking to each other" about another extension, said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., who argued against the bill.
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the bill's chief sponsor, acknowledged the two-month extension is less than ideal, especially since it expires in the middle of the summer construction season. Uncertainty over whether they can count on federal aid has already caused some states to cancel or delay millions of dollars in construction projects.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., urged colleagues to raise the federal gas tax, saying 14 states have raised theirs since 2013 "and nobody lost their election because they voted for a gas tax increase."
The White House said in a statement that it wasn't opposed to the extension, but urged lawmakers to "use this two-month extension to make meaningful and demonstrable progress toward a significant bill."
During debate on the extension, Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill proposed by the White House that would spend $478 billion on transportation over six years, a 45 percent hike over current spending. The spending increase would be paid for by closing loopholes that allow U.S. corporations to avoid paying taxes on foreign earnings by parking the profits overseas.
The House rejected an effort by Democrats to add $750 million to the bill to help passenger railroads install safety technology known as positive train control, which the National Transportation Safety Board has said could have prevented last week's deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, had it been in place.
"This really is not the place to address this," said Shuster, speaking against adding the additional money. "We need to pass this (extension) and get it to the Senate so that we make sure these vital programs keep people working, keep (construction) projects moving forward so that they don't shut down."

May 19, 2015

CT Construction Digest May 19, 2015

National highway fund set to expire local construction workers worried

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Politicians say a federal fund is close to expiring putting thousands of jobs and hundreds of construction projects in jeopardy.
“This issue effects all of us,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D, “It should be a no brainer. What could be controversial about extending the authority for the highway trust fund?”
She says political gridlock has the fund set to expire in 4 days.  It helps states pay for construction projects.
Currently, the Highway Trust Fund is running annual deficits. That’s because it relies on you filling up and the more energy efficient we become the less money it receives. Republicans and Democrats have both said they’d like a long-term solution, but can’t agree to one.  Some construction workers in the state are worried.
“You’re traveling over some of the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in the United States, you can’t see them when you drive over them and you can’t feel it, but they’re out there,” said Ct Construction Industries Association Pres. Don Shubert.
Shubert says if this fund expires, it could halt hundreds of projects in the state and impact nearly 10,000 jobs.
“You can’t find a construction company that’s going to go out and buy new equipment or invest in its company or invest in its people or plan for the future when you have absolutely no idea what Congress is going to do with transportation funding,” said Shubert.
DeLauro says if the deficit is the issue there are places to cut, but this fund is vital.
DeLauro said, “We can cut in a lot of places. We can cut subsidies that go to the oil and gas industry. We can cut agricultural subsidies. We can take a look at closing down the special interest tax loopholes.”
If it’s not reauthorized, Delauro says the fund could dry up by the end of July.

GOP proposal halves money for Malloy's transportation plan

HARTFORD -- The General Assembly's Republican minority on Monday rolled out a transportation plan which funds less than half the improvements proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The GOP plan relies on selling $33 billion worth of general obligation bonds -- and an expectation the federal government will provide another $30 billion -- to bring the total to $67 billion over 30 years.
By comparison, Malloy's proposes to spend $100 billion in state money over 30 years to widen Interstate 95 in Fairfield County and Interstate 84 in the Danbury area, improve Metro-North, build new train stations, bike and pedestrian paths and repair aging roads and bridges.
"We have to live within our means," Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, told the Governor's Transportation Finance Panel, which is charged with finding ways to fund Malloy's vision.
"Tax increases and tolls are not necessary when the governor and the Legislature can simply prioritize transportation using existing resources," Fasano said.
Devon Puglia, a Malloy spokesman, said the governor is willing to listen to any serious proposals.
"The problem with the GOP plan on transportation is that it's just not serious," Puglia said. "Like many of the documents we've seen from the Republicans, there's an issue of basic math - tell everyone how great your plan is while failing to show how to pay for it." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

UConn breaks ground

HARTFORD — UConn leaders, joined by state and local officials, marked the start of construction on the university's new downtown campus Monday, hoisting shovelfuls of dirt, raising the university's flag, and sharing ice cream from its dairy bar.
"This is a great day for UConn, but more importantly, it's a great day for Connecticut and its capital city," UConn President Susan Herbst said to a crowd that was heavy with political leaders. "As I've said before, UConn's Greater Hartford campus … is returning home to downtown Hartford where it began many years ago and where I think it belongs."
As it moves the Greater Hartford branch from West Hartford to downtown, UConn is embarking on a $115 million project to renovate and expand the stately 95-year-old Hartford Times building on Prospect Street, adding a three-story atrium and a classroom building to the back of the building.
That budget also includes funds to lease additional space in nearby buildings, such as the Hartford Public Library and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, as well as $4 million to purchase another building at 38 Prospect St. The campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.
"Of all the things that we've done and that we continue to do, this is not only one of our highest priorities, but I think it is one of the best things that we will do in our time here in this administration," Herbst said. "It works on so many levels. It's all good." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State says it has 6 months of transportation funds if Congress does not act

Washington – The law that authorizes federal transportation spending in Connecticut and across the nation runs out at the end of the month, and the fund that pays for that spending is expected to go broke two months later, but Connecticut says it has funding in place for at least six months' worth of projects if Congress fails to act in time to avert the looming crisis.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has warned governors there could be a sharp cutoff in transportation funds to the state after the end of July, when the transportation trust fund, which is filled partly with revenues collected through the federal gasoline tax, is being depleted.
The Federal Transit Administration has also warned the states that if Congress does not act on an authorization bill by May 31, no new money will be available for capital projects, essential maintenance, or operational support. Existing projects can continue if the state has money to keep them going.
Connecticut may be in a better position to handle the storm because it has taken a conservative approach to funding transportation projects, said Donald Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association.
“We’ve been critical that their funding is not aggressive enough, but their conservative approach is paying off in this instance,” Shubert said.
Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman Judd Everhart said, “We have all funding in place for current projects for at least the next six months.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Revised satellite casino plan

HARTFORD — The state Senate is considering a much-shortened bill that would allow the state's two Indian tribes to build one additional casino as a way to battle out-of-state competition.
The bill, which could come to a Senate vote this week, also provides a mechanism allowing towns to make their own proposals to the tribes.
The longer version came out about two months ago and envisioned casinos that would be built jointly by the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes. The tribes currently run huge casinos in southeastern Connecticut.
Towns including East Hartford and East Windsor have been maneuvering for the right to build a casino.
The new draft of the casino bill states that "any municipality'' could seek a casino, and sets up a process for how the two tribes would seek proposals from towns interested in hosting one. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Panel rejects revised development plan for Bristol

BRISTOL — After several years of disappointments and delays, a city panel on Monday ran out of patience with Renaissance Downtowns' plan for revitalizing the old Bristol Centre Mall site.
It voted unanimously to reject the latest version of Renaissance's proposal, which would have had the city put up nearly $4 million toward building a combination retail and apartment building on the property.
The Bristol Downtown Development Corp. listened to more than an hour's worth of public comments for and against the so-called Depot Square project, and met in executive session with Renaissance, project consultants and lawyers.
The vote is a setback for Renaissance, which has been under increasing pressure to produce something tangible by the end of June or lose its status as the lead developer for downtown.
A faction of residents and political leaders has been clamoring to dump Renaissance for the past year, but the company's advocates warn that there's no better option. Without Renaissance, they say, the city would be back to its starting point of five years ago — trying to market a sprawling vacant lot in the heart of downtown.
The details of construction and financing have changed several times over the years that Long Island-based Renaissance has held a contract to redevelop the city-owned property. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Don't punt on highway trust fund

The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) believes that there is a long history of congressional and presidential achievements when it comes to America's transportation network. In a new video, ARTBA exhorts the President to create a lasting solution to the nation's transportation woes.