June 30, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 30, 2015

Construction to begin on Stamford Mill River Park pavilion

STAMFORD — Inside Mill River Park, the sounds of cars and people on the city streets around it fade away, and all that can be heard is the running river and chirping birds.
It was that peacefulness that drew Monique Robinson and her 2-year-old son to the park on a recent Monday morning.
“We always come by the water,” the Stamford native said as she and her toddler sat along the river’s edge. “I really like the park. Before I never came around here.”
More than a decade ago, the park was a magnet for illicit activities, everything from loitering to prostitution. Then the Mill River Park Collaborative formed.
The organization began raising funds and a plan was put in place to reclaim the area around the river. Two years ago, thousands of new shrubs and 400 trees, including 70 cherry trees, were planted on 12 acres that were opened to the public. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Colony Street project in Meriden underway

MERIDEN — After several delays, work on a new parking garage and mixed-use building at 24 Colony St. is underway. The project is still expected to be completed by November 2016, a city official said Monday.
The Meriden Housing Authority and Branford-based Westmount Development Group are overseeing work on a $24 million residential and retail building, and are also partnered with the state Department of Transportation for the construction of a $8.3 million parking garage at the corner of Church and Colony streets. Work began in recent weeks and housing authority Director Robert Cappelletti said it will continue this week with geothermal welding, followed by the beginning of foundation construction. The geothermal work involves drilling the channels for heating, cooling, and hot water utilities, Cappelletti said.
The site was formerly a parking lot which city officials closed in February, anticipating that construction work would begin imminently. In February, work was delayed because application approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development took longer than expected. The construction of the residential building is part of another plan to raze the Mills Memorial Apartment complex. Twenty-four of the Mills apartments will be relocated to 24 Colony St. As Section 8 housing, the plan needs federal approval. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
HARTFORD — A bonding bill that provides the first five years of funding for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's ambitious transportation infrastructure initiative passed through both the House and Senate during Monday's special legislative session.
In addition to the $2.8 billion that will be paid out over five years under Malloy's transportation plan, starting with $275 million in fiscal year 2016, the bill includes more than $5 billion over two years for capital projects throughout the state.
Although the legislation passed largely along party lines in the Senate, with three Republicans siding with 21 Democrats, it soared through the House with bipartisan support with a margin of more than 100 votes.
Supporters said the transportation funding will improve Connecticut's infrastructure and employ residents. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Demolition deemed necessary at InterRoyal site in Plainfield

Plainfield town officials held a public hearing on June 22 regarding updates on the Brownfield Assessment study being conducted at the former InterRoyal Mill site. Soil, groundwater and sediment contamination had been discovered on the 16-acre site during studies stretching back several years. The last was conducted in 2006 when debris was removed from the site after a fire broke out in a four-story building. The current $200,000 EPA grant-funded study is meant to fill in the data gaps, according to First Selectman Paul Sweet.
Nineteen areas of concern have already been identified where contamination is known or suspected to exist. They include basement floors, fuel pipeline trenches, and areas where metal office furniture was degreased, rust-proofed and plated. Hazardous waste storage areas, two reservoirs and a paint sludge area will also be tested for contamination.
John Meyer, the principal engineer with BL Companies that is conducting the study gave the presentation. "Our job is to identify the limits and the types of contamination," he said. "Once we have that, we can come up with a clean-up estimate." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer eyes former Stop & Shop site in Hamden

HAMDEN >> The approvals of two housing projects on Mather Street have renewed interest in the vacant Stop & Shop property at the corner of Dixwell and Putnam avenues, according to economic development officials. A developer interested in the site will be submitting design plans, according to Economic Development Director Dale Kroop, who discussed the site with members of the Legislative Council Monday night during its committee meetings.
If it comes to fruition, the business the developer envisions for the site would be a smaller use than what Stop & Shop was, he said, but would breathe new life into the plaza.
The former grocery store space has sat vacant since Stop & Shop pulled out two years ago, and since then the center has gone into foreclosure. But since the two projects on Mather Street — one with 393 units, the other including 77 units — were approved, interest in vacant buildings in the area has increased, Kroop said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE



June 29, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 29, 2015

Stamford businesses unhappy with Harbor Point construction halt

When Dan Cecil agreed to open his business, World of Beer, on Harbor Point, it was with the understanding that the massive development would be built quickly and bring thousands of tenants into the neighborhood.
A year later, business is slowing down and Cecil blames it, in part, on the fact that construction workers are gone.
Progress has stalled on the development since the city put a halt on the processing of new applications until the Zoning Board accepts a viable proposal for replacing a 14-acre boatyard destroyed by the developers in late 2011.
“I don’t think they should hold the entire project hostage,” Cecil said. “I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest — including the taxpayers’ best interest — to not let Harbor Point be built.”
“I think it’s putting a big constraint on the businesses,” he added. “One of the things that attracted us to the area was the long-term viability of the project. When we made the decision to invest it was with the anticipation that it would be built as designed.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Jury to decide AFB Construction suit against Trumbull first selectman

A jury will decide if Trumbull’s first selectman purposely tried to block a friend of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy from getting a $100,000 contract to expand a preschool in Trumbull.
In a 35-page decision, Superior Court Judge Michael Kamp on Tuesday refused to throw out the lawsuit brought by Malloy ally Alphonso Barbarotta and his AFB Construction Management Inc. that claims First Selectman Timothy Herbst has a political vendetta against the company.
“The defendant (Herbst) has not met his burden of proving the lack of a dispute as to any of the material facts that he acted with an improper purpose and without justification,” the judge ruled.
The case is set to go to trial before a jury July 28.
“What the record will show and what a trial will show is that I saw a potential ethical problem which could have been tantamount to a violation of the Trumbull code of ethics and acted accordingly,” said Herbst, who contends it would have been a conflict of interest for Barbarotta, who had a contract with the town to do work for a private company leasing town property.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Inconvenience, backups at New Haven's exit 44 frustrate City Point residents

NEW HAVEN >> The state Department of Transportation intended to increase safety by eliminating an exit and creating a diamond-shaped interchange at Exit 44 off Interstate 95, but residents of City Point see it as an inconvenient, backed-up mess. In fact, residents of the Harbour Landing and Breakwater Bay condominiums off Sea Street can’t get home if they’re coming from West Haven without going around via Kimberly Avenue, even though they live just a few dozen yards from the exit. A right turn onto Sea Street is not allowed from Exit 44 northbound or the new access road that ends at Ella T. Grasso Boulevard.
“You’re not allowed to take a turn,” said Vin DiLauro, president of the Harbour Landing Condo Association. “There’s a lot of good Samaritans out there, good, law-abiding citizens” who are “making an illegal turn” to get to their homes. “It used to be an easy on, easy off,” DiLauro said. “Now I say it’s a mess.”
Deciding not to take an illegal turn involves what Paul Larivee of the Hill/City Point Neighborhood Association calls “a big loop-de-loop,” turning left and driving up to Kimberly Avenue in order to come back down the Boulevard. Ann Okerson, a resident of Harbour Close, mentioned “the difficulty of getting home when you come off of I-95. When you get to the bottom of that [ramp], the signs say ‘No Turns,’ so you can’t drive directly to our neighborhood.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State could rake in $62B in highway tolls

HARTFORD - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is backing away from a state commissioned study which concludes that slapping electronic tolls on all of Connecticut’s highways could generate more than $62 billion in revenue over 25 years.
“Tolling can be a viable option for establishing a new, sustainable and equitable source of revenue for transportation investment in Connecticut,” consultant CDM Smith said in the federally funded study on tolls obtained by Hearst Connecticut Media.
Commissioned by the state, the Smith study looked at various tolling possibilities, including border tolls, limited tolls on certain highways and express lanes, and concludes maximum revenue would be produced by placing tolls on all highways — I-95 and I-84, the Merritt Parkway and limited access state highways such as Route 8.
But despite the huge windfall predicted by the study, Malloy quickly distanced himself from placing tolls on state highways.
“The governor has neither proposed tolling nor endorsed the contents of this report,” said Devon Puglia, a Malloy spokesman. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 26, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 26, 2015

MGM Springfield now anticipates late 2018 opening

Southeastern Connecticut’s casino-owning Indian tribes, now in the process of forming a joint venture to pursue a commercial casino project north of Hartford, have a little more breathing room.
The tribes’ target, the $800 million resort casino MGM Resorts International is building in Springfield, Mass., won’t open until September 2018, about a year later than had been expected.
In correspondence this week, Blue Tarp redevelopment, MGM’s development arm, informed the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that MGM is pushing back the Springfield casino’s opening to accommodate the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Interstate 91 viaduct project. The highway work, being undertaken in connection with the casino, is scheduled to begin next month and could involve ramp and lane closures from late this year until the summer of 2018, according to Blue Tarp’s “final project schedule.”
MGM now anticipates the Springfield casino’s opening will be Sept. 5, 2018.
While the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, respectively, had expected the Springfield opening to be delayed, recent research into the MGM project’s likely effect on Connecticut jobs and gaming revenue was based on a 2017 opening. The timetable for a resort casino approved in Everett, Mass., also is likely to be pushed back. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Winchester lofts brings New Haven eyesore to life

NEW HAVEN >> Who would have thought? Where once they produced armaments for both World Wars, there is now a 158-apartment community complete with a billiard room, fitness center, study lounges and, to keep the dog-owners happy, a pet grooming station. Welcome to the Winchester Lofts, developer Forest City’s $60 million conversion of a large portion of the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. factory at Winchester Avenue and Munson Street to living space that incorporates much of the historical architecture. It is part of the renovation of the factory that was a deteriorated eyesore for decades after it stopped providing jobs for thousands of city residents and contributing to a stable city and a burgeoning middle class leading up to World War II.
Matthew Nemerson, economic development administrator for the city and a former executive director of the Science Park Development Corporation, said Thursday the 1983 vision for Science Park, of which the factory was a central part, was to bring a “little computer company, maybe a little biotech.”
“We had no idea what this was going to be. We just wanted to believe in something,” Nemerson recalled of those early plans to re-use the sprawling industrial space in Newhallville. “Never in our wildest imaginations did we think anyone would have the skill and the true vision and the money and the patience to do what so many of you have done,” Nemerson said at the formal opening of Winchester Lofts on Thursday. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Torrington ethics board votes to take no action against school board chair in plowing case

TORRINGTON >> The Board of Ethics voted to take no action against Board of Education Chairman Ken Traub after a complaint had been made against him when his father’s company was hired for emergency snow removal for the district.  Hemlock Construction Co., owned by Traub’s father Richard Traub, was used in two separate occasions, in 2013 and 2014, to remove snow from school properties following two snowstorms. The company was paid $26,000 for the two services.
The complaint was filed by Edward Arum of Torrington on March 18. The complaint said that Traub had violated several Code of Ethics sections, including on conflict on interest, financial interest and disclosure of interest.
The city’s Code of Ethics conflict of interest section states, “No official or employee shall engage in any business or transaction or shall have a private financial interest or personal interest, direct or indirect, which is incompatible or in conflict with the proper discharge of his official duties in the public interest or would tend to impair his independence of judgement or action in the performance if his official duties.”  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

O&G awarded state contract for Watertown bus maintenance facility

WATERTOWN -- The state Department of Transportation awarded a $75 million contract to O&G of Torrington to build a bus maintenance facility on Frost Bridge Road.
The new facility will provide CT Transit with space for vehicle storage, washing, maintenance and parts management, as well as administrative and operations support. The facility will provide space for 86 buses and 162 staff members. It will replace the company's existing facility on Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury.
In addition to the physical building, the project includes extensive earthwork and conservation measures on the 20-acre site. The efforts include protecting a 100-year-old American sycamore tree and creating a safe habitat for the New England cottontail rabbits during construction. The property, which borders the Naugatuck River, also will have numerous plantings to revitalize the landscape.
Site work at the project began earlier this month. The project is expected to be completed in April 2017.


June 25, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 25, 2015

New Milford reviews bids for Century Brass demo

NEW MILFORD — The town is reviewing a number of bids that have been received for the demolition of the old Century Brass mill on Scovill Road.
Mayor Pat Murphy said Monday about seven bids were received last week with three of the bids within the town’s target price range. A $2.5 million state grant has been received toward demolition and environmental cleanup of the 320,000-square-foot mill structure.
Murphy said the town and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Economic and Community Development will each review the bids. The bid is expected to be awarded on July 9 and Murphy hopes the demolition is completed by the fall.
A total of 17 contractors participated last month in the town-required walk-through of the mill.
The Housatonic Railroad line runs along the front of the property. However, Murphy said it is unknown if any of the firms that bid would use the railroad to transport demolition debris. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hospital plans major expansion, renovations

SOUTHINGTON — Hartford HealthCare announced major renovation plans Wednesday for the Bradley Memorial Campus of the Hospital of Central Connecticut, as well as planned construction of a three-level family care center at 462 Queen St.
The cost of the projects will be about $15 million, most of which will fund the Bradley renovations, said Lucille Janatka, president of HOCC and region.
A state-of–the-art Universal Care Unit will be created at Bradley by consolidating the
hospital’s second-floor emergency department with its third-floor emergency inpatient unit. The inpatient unit will be moved to the second floor. Renovations will require the building of an extension onto the hospital and construction of two new elevators, Janatka said. The universal care unit will offer “round-the-clock-care,” along with services such as ambulatory surgery, cardiac stress testing and a center for healthy living. It will have 20 beds, and all of its rooms will be private.
HHC also wants the universal care unit to incorporate “telemedicine,” which will allow offsite doctors to attend to patients via video remote, Janatka said.
Janatka said the new facility will allow the hospital to provide more flexible and efficient patient care. This model of care delivery is only being practiced in a few other parts of the country, she said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Senate panel passes 6-year highway bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate panel unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to boost spending on highway projects and give state and local governments more flexibility to spend federal money on local projects.
Lawmakers, however, have yet to come up with a way to pay for it.
The federal government relies on an 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gasoline tax to pay for highway projects. But the tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1993, no longer generates enough money to cover federal spending, and lawmakers are reluctant to increase it.
The bipartisan bill passed Wednesday would authorize federal highway projects for the next six years. It would increase spending by an average of 3 percent a year while giving states more flexibility to spend federal money on local road and bridge projects. It would provide new funding to improve freight delivery and would set aside money for rural projects.
“Our nation’s roads and highways have suffered under too many short-term extensions, which have led to higher costs, more waste, and less capability to prioritize major modernization projects to address growing demands on our interstates,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The bill “will provide states and local communities with the certainty they deserve to plan and construct infrastructure projects efficiently,” Inhofe said.
Inhofe’s committee passed the bill without dissent. Senators will now work to come up with a way to pay for the bill before sending it to the full Senate. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Strategy employed in Hammonasset projects

Madison — Thumping louder than the crashing surf and cawing gulls, the pile driver pounding into the earth beats a rumbling rhythm for the birdwatchers, beach walkers, bicyclists and sunbathers at Hammonasset Beach State Park’s West Beach this summer.
“Boy, you can really feel the ground shaking,” Susan Whalen, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said last week, as she looked over the construction site for the new 3,430-square-foot bathhouse, first aid station, concession area and offices for the Environmental Conservation Police.
As the machine slammed another wooden support for the new building into the ground, Whalen explained how the project at the state’s most popular park has been designed with an eye both on the current needs of the public and future realities of climate change.
“This is an opportunity to demonstrate that you can design a functional and attractive coastal beach complex that meets the needs of people and acknowledges the changing environment we’re dealing with,” she said. “There was a need to acknowledge sea level rise and the increasing severity of storms with the fact that people are naturally drawn to the water.”
The $7.5 million bath house, paid for with state bond funds, is a major example of how the projections of encroaching tides and stronger hurricanes are being incorporated into Connecticut shoreline projects. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Ground breaking today for Windsor Station Apartments

WINDSOR — After years of planning, construction workers are breaking ground Thursday on a new apartment complex in Windsor Center.
Work is beginning on the new Windsor Station Apartments, a two-building, $22 million project.
"Our town council's goal is to add housing here to the town center," said Windsor Town Manager Peter Souza. "It will help business here. It will add some vitality to the area with people walking around." Once completed, Windsor Station will provide 130 units, 90 in its Ellsworth Building and 40 in its McLean Building. Most will be one-bedroom and studio apartments. Windsor Station Apartments will have a common room, a fitness center, an outdoor grilling area, charging stations for electric cars — even a dog park.The current developer, Lexington Partners LLC, has been involved in the project for roughly three years now, Souza said.
"We had some environmental cleanup that we had to get done, which added to the costs of the project," said Martin J. Kenny, project developer.
The town set aside about $350,000 from the land-sale proceeds for part of the cleanup. Kenny said the project also benefited from a low-interest, $1 million loan from the Department of Economic and Community Development. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
EAST HARTFORD — The school board has awarded bids for construction projects at two elementary schools.
Superintendent Nathan Quesnel said all three projects are expected to be completed by the start of the new school year.
"This is really exciting stuff and we worked really hard to get it in place," Quesnel said. "These projects are the result of significant grant-writing." The board awarded a $143,000 bid to Warren Brothers, a general contractor in Stafford Springs, for renovations to Hockanum School as part of an expansion of the school system's public preschool program through the state's Smart Start grant.
To accommodate 30 new preschool spots, two classrooms will be renovated to include new lavatories, ceilings, lighting, flooring, age-appropriate furniture, storage space and new finishes. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

HARTFORD — After searching for three years, city school officials say they have potentially found a permanent site for Kinsella Magnet High School of Performing Arts: 275 Windsor St., the home of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Hartford campus. The board of education endorsed the location this week, allowing Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez to continue negotiations to buy the property north of downtown. Hartford has a $33 million budget for purchasing and renovating a building for Kinsella's high school grades, a long-awaited expansion of the performing arts magnet school approved through the state's Sheff v. O'Neill desegregation agreement.
But after investigating more than a dozen properties, the school system faced a June 30 deadline to identify a site or risk losing the state construction grant that will largely fund the project, board Chairman Richard Wareing said. School administrators sought a building with up to 95,000 square feet, an auditorium for 600 people and ample classroom space for 400 students. The eight-story building at 275 Windsor, a longtime educational center for working professionals, including engineers from the region's top corporations, sits on about 13 acres just east of Capital Preparatory Magnet School and north of the minor league stadium under construction. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

GLASTONBURY — The town council unanimously approved a $1.5 million project Tuesday to guard against erosion at the new Riverfront Park so the town can "protect its investment."
The town will use the money to hire a contractor that will install small- and medium-sized rocks known as riprap along the Connecticut River to shore up the slope where the park's boathouse is built. The project will begin in July and be completed sometime in September.
Shortly after the park was completed, officials noted vertical and horizontal movement in the concrete terrace west of the boathouse and in the serpentine handicapped-access ramp leading from the park to the river. Geotechnical experts said the only solution was to bring in 9,600 tons of riprap and line 200 to 300 feet of the bank with the material. The work, which will take 60 to 65 days, is designed to prevent additional movement in the slope on which the $2 million boathouse is built. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 24, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 24, 2015

New Bridgeport train station to cost $146M

BRIDGEPORT - How much will it cost to building a second train station in Bridgeport?
 The total cost for the Barnum Station project is estimated to be $146.1 million, “including environmental review, design and construction.” the state Department of Transportation said.
Previous estimates had the price as low as $48 million, but apparently did not include the all the costs of cleaning up the contaminated parcel on seven acres off Barnum Avenue.
That price tag was was contained in a grant application the state Department of Transportation has submitted for federal money.
It remains unclear where all the funding will be coming from to pay for the higher cost of a new Bridgeport station.
Part of it will come from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s ambitious $100 billion vision for Connecticut's transportation future. The roposal starts with a five-year, $10 billion plan, including $2.8 billion in new capital funding for a variety of improvements, from $18 million for better bus service to $32 million in commuter rail upgrades.
Bridgeport’s second station will feature two center island platforms in order to provide the flexibility to serve both local and express Metro-North and Amtrak trains.
The station will also have about 1,000 parking spaces.
The grant application was submitted earlier this month under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Connecticut transportation session focuses on partnership, trust

NEW HAVEN >> Public-private partnerships and whether the public can trust that transportation money will be used for that purpose were two main themes of a meeting of the Governor’s Transportation Finance Panel on Tuesday. The panel, which met in the Board of Alders’ chambers in City Hall, was given the task of gathering input on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s long-range transportation plan. The plan will be largely financed by a 0.5 percent apportionment from the 6.35 percent state sales tax, and is expected to cost $100 billion over 30 years.
Michael Likosky of the New York-based group 32 Advisors, was among those who advocated public-private partnerships, or P3’s, as a way to leverage private money and spread the risk of major projects. “My view is that it’s a question of thinking about the needs holistically in the state and then thinking about how best to meet those needs,” he said. “One of the things that has to be thought about is what discipline does private equity bring to the table in order to move it along.” He said the next five years will be critical.
Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, assured the panel that the recently passed two-year budget will not be altered in a special session to change the amount designated for transportation. “There is a stream of revenue now dedicated to transportation purposes beginning in 2016. … While adjustments might be made, I don’t think there will be any changes or backpedaling on that part of the budget,” he said.
Looney talked not just of highway spending but of building the New Haven-to-Springfield, Massachusetts, commuter train line and of looking at the way bus travel has changed, with more people busing out of New Haven to work in the suburbs, when they used to commute into the city. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State stops work at 2 New Haven construction sites over alleged labor issues

NEW HAVEN >> Construction has been stopped at two work sites in the city, one for a new, private mixed-use apartment building that just starting seeking tenants and the other a four-story residence owned by Yale University Properties, which is undergoing renovation. The state Department of Labor, in a sweep of sites in the city, which has seen an uptick in construction in recent years, issued stop work orders for 9 Dixwell Ave., which is owned by Yale and for Novella apartments on the corner of Howe and Chapel streets, and developed by Randy Salvatore. Nancy Steffens, spokeswoman for the Labor Department, said Ruben Hernandez Enterprises of Waterbury was cited Friday for alleged lack of proof of insurance showing worker’s compensation coverage and for not reporting workers on the books at 9 Dixwell Ave. and misclassification of workers as independent contractors. Steffens said a lack of payroll records means the Labor Department does not know if the workers were paid the correct amount, while the state is not provided with necessary tax information.
Yale is renovating the 18 apartments on the upper three floors at 9 Dixwell, while the first floor will be a commercial space. The contractors who were cited at both sites have 10 days to seek a hearing on the charges before the labor department if the issues are not resolved before that. A message was left for comment with a contact listed on the secretary of the state’s filing for Ruben Hernandez Enterprises. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hamden BOE approves funding for West Wood. Sheppard Schools

HAMDEN >> Long-awaited projects that will renovate two elementary schools and move the school district’s offices will soon be going out for requests for proposals after the Board of Education Monday approved the funding requests. In a special meeting after Hamden High School’s graduation, the board approved a $3.9 million bond request that will go toward design plans to renovate West Woods and Shepherd Glen elementary schools to “like new” condition. It also approved allocating up to $85,000 for architectural and engineering expenses for the Central Office move from its space at 60 Putnam Ave. to the Hamden Government Center. The renovation funds are only the beginning of a long process to remodel the two schools, each of which was built in the 1970s. The figure is about 7 percent of what it is expected to cost for the work at the schools, which is the industry standard, according to Facilities Director Mark Albanese. The cost of the Shepherd Glen project is estimated at $25 million, and for West Woods it’s $29.9 million. Of those amounts, the town is expected to be eligible for 67.86 percent reimbursement, making the town’s share of the projects $9.6 million. Of the $3.9 million for design costs, about $2.7 million will be reimbursable, he said.
Once the funding is in place, a School Building Committee will be appointed to oversee the work, board Chairman John Keegan said.  “Years and years ago we started work on this,” said board member Adam Sendroff, “and we are just about there.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 23, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 23, 2015

Malloy signs casino bill into law

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed a bill into law that creates a multi-step process for possibly opening a new tribal casino along the Connecticut border.
Malloy's office announced Monday he signed a bill allowing the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to issue a request for proposals, or RFP, from municipalities interested in hosting one satellite casino to compete with the planned MGM Resorts casino in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Tribal officials have said they would like to locate the facility along the Interstate 91 corridor in north central Connecticut.
The tribes' RFP will be posted on the Department of Consumer of Protection's website for interested communities to review. The tribes own and operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casino and say a jointly run facility will help protect those jobs.
BERLIN — School is out and construction work is kicking into high gear at Berlin High.
Superintendent of Schools David Erwin said that as a result of the flurry of construction, the access to the school’s grounds is being deemed off limits. He said that includes athletic facilities located behind BHS.
The restriction went into effect today.
The work being done at Berlin High School consists of removal of light fixtures and a large percentage of the curbs in the parking lots. That work will be followed by excavating, trenching and installing new parking lot lighting, curbs and an island. Milling and paving will then take place.
Construction crews will also be hard at work on the inside of the building. Erwin said the last third of the school will be abated over most the summer along with selective demolition to facilitate the renovation of the final portion of the school.
“Due to the extensive site work and interior work, the summer administrative and guidance staff personnel will be working at McGee School for most of the summer,” the superintendent added. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

UTC breaks ground on new center

EAST HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy joined officials from United Technologies Research Center on Monday to break ground on a new research facility.
The new building will create more than 100,000 square feet of lab and office space for its campus in East Hartford.
"The investment will transform the UTRC campus into the research center of tomorrow and will provide the resources and foundation for all the innovation that this team will develop," said UTRC Vice President, Research and Director David Parekh. "The investments we are making will ensure continued expansion of our research capabilities as we power the future of UTC."
The work is part of a $50 million investment from United Technologies Corp., parent company of United Technologies Research Center. The company has already started transitioning employees so it can begin demolition work on the old facility. Heavy construction is scheduled to begin later this summer, and completion is expected by 2017. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newington committee wants guidance on town hall project

NEWINGTON —The town hall building committee will meet July 15 with the town council to clarify how much council members want to spend on the project.
A majority of building committee members appears to have coalesced around a proposal to tear down the existing town hall and community center and erect a $35- to $37 million structure. That's significantly more than the $30 million cost the council has suggested, but never formally set, building committee Chairman Alan Bongiovanni said.
"Before we make a final recommendation, tell us what the ballpark is so we aren't spinning our wheels," Bongiovanni said. "We need some guidance."
Mayor Stephen Woods said that the town would schedule one and perhaps two public hearings as soon as possible after the July 15 meeting, Woods said. Ultimately, residents, who must approve the project at referendum, need to decide what they want, Woods said. He urged them to attend any hearings scheduled and express their opinions.
"I'll do what it takes to get input from the public," he said. "This is not my town hall. This is not my community center. It's theirs. I want it to be right for them."CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Report says Waterbury over capacity and must build more schools

WATERBURY — Tinker Elementary School is one of the more in-demand schools in Waterbury. Located in the relatively upscale Town Plot neighborhood, its test scores trend much higher than district averages.
Principal Darlene Cofrancesco said she frequently fields calls from parents interested in buying or renting a home, but wanting to know if their children would be eligible for Tinker before committing. But space inside Tinker is so tight that Cofrancesco can't even guarantee current students a seat next year. Cofrancesco has devised a complicated chain-reaction shuffle of a kindergarten; computer room, art and music teachers and a parent liaison in order to shoehorn in that additional class. Without the maneuver, Tinker would have to bus out 18 of its fifth-grade students next year.
"I would rather keep them here," Cofrancesco said. "Some of them have been with us since kindergarten. It's hard to go about transferring someone you've had since kindergarten."
Almost all of the city's elementary and middle schools are filled beyond their capacity, as defined by modern educational space expectations, according to the first findings of a $152,000 school facilities study commissioned by the city. Some are worse off than others.
The 90-year-old Tinker Elementary hosted 572 students last school year, putting it at 123 percent of capacity, according to calculations in a study by Cheshire-based Milone & MacBroom. Eighteen of 21 district elementary and middle schools are overcrowded, according to the report. Tinker is the second most so, right behind Regan Elementary, according to the report.
Milone & MacBroom won a contract to analyze the district's current and future space needs, and its ability to meet them with available resources. Milone & MacBroom missed its May 1 deadline to deliver a report, but Mayor Neil O'Leary said he's to blame, having asked the firm to consider potential parochial school assets that might be turned to city use.
Last Monday, members of the Board of Education were emailed a PowerPoint presentation filled with data tables and summaries of findings. Study architects promise a more detailed report, including cost estimates for suggested construction, in August. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

June 22, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 22, 2015

Development hits new heights in downtown Danbury

DANBURY — Efforts to revitalize the city’s center are gaining momentum this summer with more than $100 million worth of investments being made along Main Street.
The construction of several projects along Main Street, including an $80 million luxury apartment complex, marks an unprecedented amount of activity for the downtown as bulldozers and workers can be seen from one end of the corridor to the other.
“This is by far the most projects at any one given time that I can ever remember on Main Street, and I’ve been around for more than 50 years,” said Joseph DaSilva Jr., a major downtown land owner. “The downtown has been left out of the development circles for the last 20 years, but our time has finally come. What’s going on today on Main Street is monumental.”
Besides the Kennedy Flats housing complex under construction on the north end of Main Street, other projects in the city’s core include a new four-story health care center set to start construction this month, a new medical building under construction by the Optimum Medical group and an anticipated expansion of Naugatuck Valley Community College, which hopes to triple its downtown presence in the next year.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction leads state job growth

 Connecticut’s construction industry added an estimated 2,400 jobs in May, the fastest growth the sector has seen dating back to 1990, which is as far back as the state Department of Labor posts industry data online.
Including the construction sector’s gains, Connecticut added an estimated 6,400 jobs in May, according to estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor, dropping the unemployment rate to 6.0 percent from an adjusted 6.2 percent in April.
The Labor Department reported the figures hours before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was scheduled to visit the new Stamford headquarters of Vineyard Vines, which plans to maintain a workforce of 200 people at Shippan Landing, also running retail stores in Greenwich and Westport.
“We had a fantastic month,” Malloy said. “What you’re seeing is a continuation of a trend that began four years ago, and that is very active and robust job growth here in Connecticut — and, let me point out, on a sustained basis.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Out with the old lines around New Britain

NEW BRITAIN — Connecticut Natural Gas crews are ripping up 4 1/2 miles of road in the city to replace aging, outdated pipes. The cast-iron pipes are being removed and replaced in 15 locations, including the downtown and Broad Street areas, Booth, Gold and Silver streets and the mile-plus length of Allen Street. The Broad Street work began in November 2014 and is expected to be done later this summer, and the Allen Street work began last spring and has a target completion date of December.
CNG crews are replacing the 6-inch pipes with cheaper and more durable 2-inch polyethylene plastic pipes with an estimated lifespan of 100 years.
While there have been some traffic disruptions, CNG officials said the work has important long-term benefits.
“There is less of a chance of leakage because of the work we are doing,” said Rick Dion, manager of construction for the gas company. In addition, he said, in most cases the gas meters will be moved from inside the home or business to outside. “We do not need to go inside their home. It also makes it easier for residents who might want to refinish their basement and not have a gas meter in the way.”
Over the long term, Dion said, there will be “a reduction of the costs incorporated into the rates.”
Crews are now working on Rosyln Drive, Kenwood Drive and Birch Hill Drive in the city’s west end.
CNG, which covers 22 communities in the Hartford/New Britain area, notifies residents and business owners by mail of gas line work two weeks ahead. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

East Hampton High School construction begins in earnest

EAST HAMPTON >> The entire high school campus will be off-limits to the public through Aug. 28. That prohibition applies to access to all the school fields and also to the track, school officials said. The ban on residents’ use of the school property comes as work crews seek to take advantage of the summer’s closure of school to expedite a renovation and expansion project. Not only is the public barred from the property, but so are school personnel, including the administration, office and guidance staff. All are being relocated to Memorial School for the summer months, officials said
To ensure that residents get the message, Downes Construction, the general contractor for the school project, is posting “no trespassing” signs on the school grounds. Workers on the project have been told to call the police if they see people coming onto the property, a Downes representative told the School Building Committee on Thursday. “I want to make it abundantly clear that both the track and the fields are off-limits,” Building Committee Chairwoman Sharon Smith said during Thursday’s meeting. Meanwhile, both Downes’ representative Steve Smith and a representative of project manager Colliers International said there is an ambitious program of construction set to begin next week. Crews fell behind schedule earlier this year to due to the severe winter weather.
Construction officials told the School Building Committee earlier this month the crews are hoping to use the summer to get back on schedule. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NPU to replace gas pipeline on Washington Street

NORWICH - This weekend, Norwich Public Utilities will begin work on a five-week, half-a-million dollar project to replace 1,400 feet of natural gas line underneath one of the city’s most used intersections. Starting Sunday night, NPU crews will lift out a 106-year-old cast iron pipe on Washington Street in front of The William W. Backus Hospital and install a polyethylene one that enhances the line’s durability.
Because of high traffic volume in the area, NPU will work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, starting Sunday and running through July 10., with a four-day break, July 3-6, to accommodate the Independence Day holiday. “While we recognize this may cause an inconvenience for some of our neighbors, NPU crews are able to work in a much more efficient manner during the overnight hours, when there is far less traffic on Washington Street,” spokesman Chris Riley said.
During the final two weeks of the project, work will take place between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Officials said the time frame is critical, because equipment and pipes in the area have started to show signs of failure. In addition to installing the new length of pipe, officials are putting in a new regulator that can be controlled and adjusted from NPU’s control room. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State must mend Waterbury Mixmaster before replacing it

WATERBURY - Before the nightmarish "mixmaster" on the Waterbury stretch of I-84 can be replaced, it will have to be repaired, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday.
The mixmaster is the name given to the overlapping stretches of highway, and related exits and entrances, where I-84 and Route 8 meet.
Malloy, along with Waterbury Mayor Neil M. O'Leary and representatives of the state Department of Transportation, held a press conference to provide updates on the I-84 Waterbury Project. "What I'm announcing today is that we'll undertake the repairs necessary to stretch the useful life [of the current mixmaster] for a few more years," Malloy said.
According to the governor, there is no concrete design in place yet for what the newly designed interchange will look like or how it will be built. He said the state will first need to invest money in extending the life of the current mixmaster before fully replacing it.
"We can't have it fall down on us," Malloy said.

June 19, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 19, 2015

Legislators concerned after report of $365M rail project mismanagement

Local lawmakers say they’re concerned about issues with the construction timeline and the cost of updates to railroad tracks along the Hartford Line, though a state Department of Transportation representative says the issues shouldn’t affect projects locally.
The Hartford Courant reported Wednesday on a May 11 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy noted significant over-expenditures by railroad corporation Amtrak in updates to 62 miles of track between New Haven and Springfield, known as the Hartford Line. Malloy attributed the cost overruns and expected delays in the construction schedule to Amtrak’s failure to manage budgeting and staffing and requested that ownership of the track be transferred to the state.
“Connecticut believes that the only way to fund and own responsibility for the success of this corridor is to transfer ownership of the line to the state of Connecticut,” says a copy of the letter, obtained by The Courant.
In a statement Thursday, Amtrak spokeswoman Christina Leeds said: “We are working closely with the Connecticut DOT and other involved parties to collaboratively address the challenges facing this important and multifaceted project. While we have a different view of the circumstances surrounding this project, we share Governor Malloy’s desire to effectively advance the improvements to New Haven-Springfield corridor and remain committed to cooperatively moving the program forward.”
Representatives from Malloy’s office could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Among other cities and towns, the Hartford Line runs through Berlin, Meriden, Wallingford and North Haven, where new stations with elevated platforms are being built. State DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said that work on this section of the rail line shouldn’t be delayed, however. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

 Norwich — One of the city’s busiest traffic intersections will be under construction for six weeks in the evening and overnight hours starting Sunday night, as Norwich Public Utilities crews replace a more than 100-year-old sewer line on Washington Street from the end of the Route 2 highway to the The William W. Backus Hospital.
The $500,000 project includes replacing a 1,400-foot cast iron pipe dating to 1909 and a 50-year-old manually operated natural gas regulator, NPU spokesman Chris Riley said. The new polyethylene pipe will be flexible to better withstand disruptions from above or below, Riley said, and the new regulator will be “significantly safer” and can be adjusted from NPU’s control room.
“The equipment and pipe in this area is very old and showing preliminary signs of failure in a few spots,” Riley said. “It is more practical, safe and cost-effective for this work to be done in a staged and scheduled manner and not in response to an emergency.”
Work will start Sunday evening, Riley said. NPU crews will begin staging equipment at 6 p.m. and work until approximately 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday until about July 10. The final two weeks of work will be done between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Putnam gas line extension project will cost half of original estimate

PUTNAM — Efforts to upgrade the town’s infrastructure will get another boost. Putnam is entering into a series of contracts with Eversource Energy, formerly Yankee Gas, to expand the town’s gas lines and their capacity, Town Administrator Douglas Cutler said.
Cutler originally projected the cost at $1 million, but now says it will be less than half of that.
“The cost of the project has dropped dramatically over the course of our negotiations,” Cutler said. “We thought it was going to be $1 million, then it was $550,000 and now it’s come down to $429,546, which again is even less on the contracts than we expected.”
Putnam has also accounted for all of the costs in projects it has already financed, such as the QuinebaugRegionalTechnicalPark and the high school renovations, Cutler said.
Economic and Community Development Director Delpha Very underscored the importance of the project to the town. Putnam has pushed the capacity of its gas lines to their limits because of the expansion and addition of businesses in the industrial park. Add to that the YMCA being constructed off Kennedy Drive and the addition of the high school and expansion of the lines was required for those projects alone, Very said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Major renovation of Mattabassett District facility complete

CROMWELL — A $108 million expansion and upgrade of the Mattabassett District sewage treatment facility is complete, and officials say they are pleased with the performance of the plant.
The district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the end of the three-year project, which increased the facility's treatment capacity from 20 million gallons per day to 35 million gallons per day.
Most important, officials said, the upgrades greatly cut down the amount of nitrogen in cleaned water discharged into the Connecticut River.
State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Rob Klee said high levels of nitrogen promote algae growth, which chokes ecosystems in the river and in Long Island Sound.
"Today you're putting online an expanded new treatment plant that will handle more water and clean it to higher standards and hold down costs for our communities and ratepayers," Klee said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bidders offer visions for former New Haven bus depot site

NEW HAVEN >> As anticipated, two bidders are vying to develop the closed CT Transit bus depot on State Street. Jason Carter of Carter Management Company and 1175 LLC State submitted a request for proposals for the almost 7-acre parcel in the Mill River District, as did Digital Surgeons in combination with Urbane Newhaven LLC. Digital Surgeons is a branding and marketing company located across the street from the depot whose chief executive officer is David Salinas, while Urbane Newhaven LLC is headed by Eric O’Brien, a developer and a co-owner of CrossFit New Haven.
Both Digital Surgeons and CrossFit are located at 1175 State St., which is owned by Carter.
Carter, according to his biography, has owned, built and managed a billion dollars of Manhattan real estate since 1978, including reconstruction of seven National Landmarks in Soho, four buildings uptown, the Walter Kerr Theater and 22 Central Park South. This is in addition to new construction.
Carter got interested in New Haven after his many trips to the city while his four older children took turns attending Yale University. Salinas said he and his partner view the project as a place for entreprenuers to locate, while 10 percent of the property will be set aside as incubation space for startups. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE



June 18, 2015

CT Construction Digest June 18, 2015

Danbury health center construction set to begin

DANBURY — After more than four years of planning and lining up financing, officials with the Connecticut Institute for Communities are ready to move forward on a four-story health center on southern Main Street.
The institute, a not-for-profit social services organization headed by former U.S. Rep. James Maloney, will be building the health center on the site of the city’s former police station. The institute acquired the property, with plans to build both a health center and senior housing, more than four years ago for $1.1 million.
While it took some time to line up financing for the project, Maloney said they have about $15 million available for the new building and recently signed a contract with Bethel-based Verdi Construction, who will begin working on the project this month.
The financing came from a combination of state grants, private mortgages and money that became available through a federal program that allows private investors to earn tax credits by investing in community projects.
“It took a while to put all the money together, but we are now at a place where we can move forward with the health center,” Maloney said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Danbury's Kovacs Construction finds new home in Oxford

DANBURY — After more than 20 years of calling the city home, the Kovacs Construction Co. is moving out of Danbury.
While the move is a sad one for company officials who’ve spent much of their careers at the Danbury office on White Street, the company’s services have been in demand throughout the state. Wanda Kovacs, who runs the family-owned company along with her brother, Tom Kovacs, said a building they purchased in Oxford last week will give them more space and offer a more central location for their operations.
The company was founded in the 1970s by Richard Kovacs, an Air Force veteran with experience working on hydraulic systems, in Stamford. The company moved to its location in Danbury when it built a new facility on White Street in 1986. Kovacs Construction specializes in government sewer and water infrastructure, including pump stations and water treatment plants. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

BHS students: Construction made year difficult

BERLIN — The school year at Berlin High School has come to an end — a year in which a number of students said couldn’t have concluded soon enough; one in which they said was anything but easy as a result of the massive construction and renovation project taking place to the building.
A group of approximately 20, each of whom declined to give their name, while spending one of their first days of summer vacation on the basketball courts located on the edge of the school’s parking lot, used the likes of a “disaster,” “a complete inconvenience,” “impossible” and “really frustrating” to describe the experience of the past school year.
One student, a member of the Class of 2016, said that in many aspects the new school, at this point, was no better than the old one. He said depending on the classroom, the temperatures were extremely hot or extremely cold, it was noisy and often times a foul odor could be detected.
Another said the constant banging of construction equipment made it “very difficult to concentrate” and that it certainly hindered not only their ability to learn, but the instructor’s ability to teach.
Two seniors who were making their way into the building Wednesday afternoon to pick up their caps and gowns in preparation for Sunday’s graduation ceremony, said that at one point their entire class had to pick up and move to another room as they feared the banging and rattling above them would force things to fall through the ceiling. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Southington sports complex gets informal PZC approval

SOUTHINGTON — The town’s efforts to attract a sports complex developer got a boost after Planning and Zoning Commission members gave unanimous informal support this week to a proposal that includes a 300,000-square-foot dome.
A 112-acre site on West Street owned by the Sepko family is for sale and the town’s economic development office is targeting the site for a sports complex.
The town doesn’t own the property but approved up to $40,000 to develop a placeholder site plan to show zoning commission support for the concept. Louis Perillo III, economic development coordinator, said the town’s efforts help reduce the cost and risk of developing a sports complex.
Planning, design and full approval can cost as much as $100,000.
“That’s a lot of money for a developer to spend just to see if it’s acceptable to the town,” Perillo said.
Any developer still needs to get formal approval to build a complex.
According to a contract signed with the Sepko family, the town agreed on an undisclosed price to market the property. The contract also stipulated that the Sepkos will reimburse the town for engineering work if the property is sold through the town’s marketing efforts.
At least two developers were in the audience during Tuesday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. They declined to identify themselves but said they were from Southington and planned a complex with eight fields, a restaurant and viewing area. They showed renderings of the proposed complex to town officials and others after the meeting. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
HARTFORD — A dispute between Amtrak and the state over escalating expenses has jeopardized chances that commuter trains will be running on the New Haven to Springfield line by late next year.
Connecticut's long-strained relationship with the railroad apparently fractured further in the past year, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is now asking federal officials to intervene because of what he calls Amtrak's failure to manage budgeting and staffing for what was supposed to be a $365 million job.
"The result is that the project is grossly over budget and significantly behind schedule," Malloy wrote in a May 11 letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Malloy told Foxx that the Federal Railroad Administration must get tougher in overseeing Amtrak's work on its 62-mile Springfield branch, but said the real solution is to take the project out of Amtrak's control altogether.
"Connecticut believes that the only way to fund and own responsibility for the success of this corridor is to transfer ownership of the line to the state of Connecticut," says a copy of the letter, obtained by The Courant.
Officials from Amtrak and the DOT met last week to review a new construction bid for the work, but it's not clear whether the project — known as the Hartford Line — can be ready to roll at the end of 2016. State Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said he anticipates a report from Amtrak and its primary contractor in mid- to late August showing a detailed budget forecast and construction schedule. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE