October 30, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 29, 2015

The Right Path: Connecting The Charter Oak Greenway From Manchester To Bolton

MANCHESTER — Save this date: May 18, 2017. That's when a regionwide party will be held to celebrate the three-mile extension of the Charter Oak Greenway trail connecting Manchester to Bolton and Vernon.
That's a pledge state and town officials made Thursday morning when they gathered at the eastern terminus of the current trail along Camp Meeting Road.
Under the $6.5 million project, the trail — which currently runs from the Connecticut River in East Hartford through Manchester — will continue 2.75 miles through Manchester into Bolton and end at Bolton Notch State Park.
The trail will connect with the Hop River Trail, which runs to Willimantic and Vernon, as part of the state's 200-mile portion of a 3,000-mile commuter and recreational linear park along the Eastern Seaboard.
State Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said funding for the trail is part of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's five-year transportation "ramp-up plan." An additional $10 million a year will be invested to close gaps in the state's multiuse trails, and $1.2 million has been earmarked for trail maintenance. Redeker said the multiuse trails have become "a vital part of our community. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Is a Ryan Speakership Good for Construction?

With the election of Rep. Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, he might help spur Congress in a new direction. From the perspective of the nation’s construction industry, that would be a good thing.
It is not as if Ryan is unaware of the industry. His great-grandfather took his team of mules and founded an earthmoving company that today, 130 years later, is Ryan Incorporated Central., a Wisconsin site-work firm with projects across Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states.
Ryan is someone John Boehner’s House antagonists ought to be able to embrace. Like many of the so-called Tea Party enthusiasts, Ryan is an economic conservative with credentials going clear back to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. None of his peers in the self-described Freedom Caucus can boast the same.
He voted against the 2009 stimulus package because he correctly saw it as a waste of money. President Obama ruefully acknowledged his almost $900 billion spending package failed to create lasting jobs and kick-start construction projects, saying they apparently weren’t as shovel-ready as he’d imagined. A missed opportunity for builders. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

O&G may keep Waterbury school pact

Construction consultant is city's choice from 6 bidders

WATERBURY — School officials are close to signing a contract that will extend the relationship with their long-term school construction consultant for up to five years at a cost of up to $3.8 million.
Torrington-based O&G Industries has helped develop and oversee school construction projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars during the past decade due to a series of contract extensions granted by the Board of Education This is the first time since O&G first began as the city's chief school construction consultant that it's had competition for the job. Six firms responded to a request-for-proposals issued by the city.
The offers of the other five firms were not available Thursday night as the school board reviewed the proposal at a public meeting. Members of the board had no questions or comments.
The contract time period is backdated to Sept. 1 of this year and locks the city in with O&G for three years at a cost of $2.6 million. After that, the board has the option of extending the contract for $598,385 for a fourth year and $590,756 for a fifth year. Paul Guidone, chief operating officer for city schools, noted these are the maximum costs in any given year, and it's possible that the bill will be less based upon the amount of construction conducted in any given year.
O&G's bills have landed $1.6 million under the maximum allowed by contract over the past decade, Guidone said. O&G is the recommendation of a selection committee including school board members Charles L. Stango, Ann M. Sweeney and Jason Van Stone; along with City Purchasing Director Rocco Orso; Joseph Geary, chief of staff to the mayor; Guidone and Interim Chief Operating Officer Gary Miller. School board member Thomas Van Stone attended the interview.
The board is expected to vote on the contract at its meeting Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

Despite local rejection of Bradley International Airport casino, Connecticut legislature could overrule selectmen

SPRINGFIELD ‒ Efforts to place a casino at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn. hit a major stumbling block late Tuesday, with the city's selectmen rejecting a proposal to submit a bid for casino.
But despite selectmen voting two-to-one against the bid, which would've signaled Windsor Lock's interest in a casino to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, at least one state representative is eyeing a tweak of the state's new casino law to force a potential casino into the airport against local elected officials' wishes.
Rep. Peggy Sayers, D-Windsor Locks, hinted that the Connecticut legislature could consider allowing the tribal nations to directly enter into casino discussions with the airport - something currently not permitted under state law, according to the Hartford Courant. Connecticut lawmakers recently passed legislation requiring casino bids to contain sign-offs by municipalities where they would be built. And Sayers mention of a workaround would still need legislative action and approval to come to fruition.
Legislative approval is also needed before construction would begin at a casino, which would pose competition for the nearby planned MGM Springfield casino just over the border. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

October 29, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 29, 2015

Why does firewood cost so much? Fracking’s part of it

Concord, N.H. — Northeasterners who are digging deeper into their pockets to pay for firewood this season can add a new scapegoat to the roster of usual market forces: fracking.
Yep, a timber industry representative in New Hampshire said those hydraulic fracturing well sites in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation to suck natural gas out of the ground are using construction "mats" made of hardwood logs — think of the corduroy roads seen in sepia-toned photographs from the 1800s — to get heavy equipment over mucky ground, wetlands or soft soils.
That increased demand has crept down the chimney into fireplaces. Prices in parts of New England are averaging $325 a cord and can even push past $400 for a seasoned, delivered load. That's anywhere from $50 to $75 more a cord than last year — or an increase of 18 to 23 percent.
Jasen Stock, executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, said it's not just fracking sites that are hogging the logs. Pipelines and transmission wires — really any large-scale construction project — have in the past three years ramped up the appetite for the perfect mat log: a hardwood trunk, 16 to 20 feet long and 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
As a result, the cost of cordwood on the stump (that is, live trees) went from $10 in 2012 in northern New Hampshire to $15 this year, Stock said.
"If you're putting in a power line or gas line over wetlands or soft soil, they use thousands and thousands of these mats, and they're made of hardwood logs," Stock said. "If you're in the firewood business, that's your sweet spot. That's the log you want." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Enfield Voters To Decide Multimillion-Dollar Appropriations In 3 Ballot Questions

ENFIELD — Residents on Tuesday will be asked to approve funding for three multimillion-dollar projects, including energy-efficiency improvements at town buildings and school security enhancements.
The first question asks voters if the town can appropriate $36 million to improve the town's water pollution control facility and sewage collection system, including pump stations, the solids handling system, the odor-control system, clarifier mechanisms and aeration equipment. The town says the current equipment violates state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection standards.
Sewer use fees, which started in 2014, will fund this project, Mayor Scott Kaupin said Wednesday. In 2014, the town switched the way it taxed residents for sewer use, from a property-tax-based approach to a user-based system in which residents pay a rate based on their water consumption.
The second question asks voters if the town can appropriate $11.2 million for an energy-efficiency project that would upgrade heating and ventilation systems, boilers and furnaces, and indoor lighting at multiple town and school buildings, according to supporting documents for the referendum posted on the town's website. The project would also make street lighting improvements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Malloy Reiterates His Call For Transportation Lock Box

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy spent part of his cabinet meeting Wednesday reiterating his call for a constitutional lock box for transportation funds.
Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said underinvestment in transportation over the last few decades has begun to take its toll on Connecticut’s roads and bridges.
He said 35 percent of Connecticut’s bridges are functionally obsolete or structurally deficit and 41 percent of state and local roads are in “poor” condition. Those poor road conditions add $661 per year in operating costs for drivers.
Road conditions and lack of access to transportation also make the state less desirable to businesses.
Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said one of the most important factors businesses consider when they’re relocating is access to transportation. She said it has replaced talent as the number one factor corporations consider in relocation decisions.
Earlier this year, Malloy laid out his 30-year, $100 billion transportation vision and created a panel to figure out how to fund it.
Originally, the panel was supposed to finish its work in October, but it requested an additional two months.
Cameron Staples, who chairs the panel, has said that when the legislature decided to use a half-cent from the state sales tax to shore up the special transportation fund, it changed the timeline. Initially, the panel was planning to have its recommendations in place this fall for a special session, but “because the fund is now solvent for the next few years, it really took pressure off us,” Staples said last month.
He said they are looking at meeting in November to begin putting together their draft report and a final report the first week of December.
Malloy admitted that the sales tax only pays for a portion of his plans and a lock box would go a long way to guaranteeing the funds will be there in the future. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Milford to add up to 400 parking spaces at train station

MILFORD >> Mayor Ben Blake and members of the business community Wednesday announced the acquisition of four properties near the train station to be used for parking to benefit commuters and downtown businesses.
The city bought the properties totaling 2.2 acres through a $5 million grant from the state.
Blake and business leaders said it was a day to celebrate, as the parking spaces will make downtown more appealing to businesses and commuters, as well as boosting existing businesses. It is estimated that 5,000 commuters use the station each day, Blake said.
“Milford is a vibrant place, a hustling, bustling place,” Blake said. He said the city has had downtown parking challenges and the state grant means local taxes won’t be impacted by the purchase of the properties.
The parcels that will become parking over the next three years include: 44-64 River St., 0 River St., 145 High St. and 0 Railroad Ave.
The plan announced Wednesday calls for 100 new spaces to be constructed in the next three months, with a minimum of 300 additional spaces to be created within the next three years.
A development committee to oversee parking design and an economic improvement strategy for the property will be appointed, Blake said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

October 28, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 28, 2015

Massive housing project in new mayor’s hands

BRIDGEPORT — John McClutchy stood behind a podium on this abnormally frigid fall day, wrapping up the recent construction kickoff for the first 93 units of his massive East Side housing complex.
“I look forward to seeing you all at the groundbreaking for the next phase of Crescent Crossing, which should be happening in the next few months,” the developer told Mayor Bill Finch and the other city, state and federal officials present.
  That would be a realistic statement in some alternate universe, where Finch won the Sept. 16 Democratic primary and was expected to win a third term in Tuesday’s election.
But McClutchy and supporters of the two-phase, 177-unit Crescent project face a much different reality.
Finch lost the primary. And Crescent’s future will be one of the first important economic development decisions the next mayor makes after taking office Dec. 1.
McClutchy, with Finch’s support, has been seeking a controversial, 35-year tax break to help finance the remaining 84 units. The proposal has for months languished before the City Council.
“Fighting over the size of incentives, the question is legit,” said Joseph McGee, a vice president with the Business Council of Fairfield County and a close ally of Finch. “But the bottom line? You don’t want to jeopardize the development. If you turn these deals down you end up with a view that (the city) just doesn’t want development.”
McClutchy in an interview remained bullish that Finch’s successor, whom voters will elect Tuesday, will continue with Crescent.
“I can’t imagine any responsible administration would not move this project forward,” he said.
The problem for McClutchy is that two of the three best-known candidates — ex-Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, who beat Finch in their party’s primary, and Republican Enrique Torres — have worked to successfully delay the City Council vote for the tax credits. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bridgeport thermal loop moves closer

Construction is still a year off, but a plan to make use of waste energy to heat buildings around Bridgeport took a big step forward recently.
NuPower Thermal, based in Easton, announced a development agreement in late September with a consortium backed by the Danish government to support the Bridgeport District Energy project planned in the city. The consortium will provide funding and support for the final phase of engineering, as well as technology sourcing and project management. Construction is anticipated for late 2016.
  “It’s important for us that the Danish clean cluster in conjunction with the Danish government has partnered with us on this,” said Scott Guilmartin, a cofounder of NuPower. “They are investing time and money and engineering, and we hope that will move things forward quickly.”
The system in Bridgeport will utilize waste heat from multiple sources, including the Wheelabrator waste-to-energy plant and a fuel cell. The warm water produced by the combined sources will provide heat to customers as it is piped through to the designated buildings.
The thermal loop would include much of Bridgeport’s South End, but could also reach downtown buildings, including the courthouses, Housatonic Community College and the series of buildings undergoing rehabilitation on Main Street in what’s known as Downtown North.
“With all these buildings being renovated, they all should be on this system,” Guilmartin said. “It would make no sense for them not to be.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

NB brass millworks being converted to apts.

A former New Britain brass millworks will be revamped into 169 loft-style apartments as part of a $35 million redevelopment, officials say.
Mayor Erin Stewart and other city and community officials will join the developer Wednesday at noon for a formal project announcement at the former Landers, Frary & Clark Mfg. Co. site at 321 Ellis St.
Developer Ellis Street Holdings LLC will oversee the two-year conversion of the obsolete mill covering 250,000 square feet into one- and two-bedroom living units, Stewart's office said Monday.
The former factory that once churned out coat hooks and other brass parts before switching to production of scales, coffee grinders, cake mixers, bread makers, coffee pots, percolators and urns, among other consumer appliances, has been shuttered the past 40 years.

Smokestacks at former Ansonia Copper & Brass plant come down

ANSONIA >> Another significant piece of the city’s manufacturing past was torn down Tuesday, signaling the start of the second phase of demolition to the former Ansonia Copper & Brass plant.
Three large metal smokestacks, not the iconic brick ones prominently positioned above the Naugatuck River, that sat tall atop the former building known as “the powerhouse,” were taken down by Virginia-based contractor MED Demolition and Construction.
The rusted trio of smokestacks — the tallest one standing some 75 feet, and the others about 50 feet — were carefully cut down into 20-foot sections. According to John Barto, general manager and past president of AC&B, the powerhouse which lay fallow since the early 1970s provided power to the entire facility, which comprises some 60 acres downtown.  
Removing the old smokestacks is the start of the second phase of demolition to the property which once was a bustling hub of manufacturing in the Valley in its heyday. Mayor David Cassetti said starting at the top with the smokestacks will then make way for the interior of the powerhouse, along with another 300,000 square feet of space, formerly known as the tube and rod mill building, to come crashing down next spring. Cassetti said the interiors have to undergo an environmental cleanup before they be can be demolished and ready for future redevelopment.
“We’re getting a blank canvas for redevelopment,” Cassetti said, as he watched the sparks fly from inside the powerhouse, the smokestacks chopped with a flame cutter. “This is a very exciting day for Ansonia.”
Cassetti said the massive site has the potential to house a multitude of businesses, including a prospective $150 million, 20-megawatt fuel cell plant that would create clean energy, and generate a significant amount of money to Ansonia’s tax base. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

West Haven High School project put on hold

WEST HAVEN >> The $124.69 million “renovate as new” project to build a new West Haven High School within part of the current school is being put on hold for a few years while the city gets its finances in order, city and schools officials said Tuesday.
But state officials have given the city assurances that West Haven will not lose state funding or its current 76 percent reimbursement rate because the project already has begun, Mayor Ed O’Brien, Finance Director Kevin McNabola, Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro and High School Building Committee Chairman Ken Carney said.
“If we started (the bulk of) the job now, the funding might not be in place ... and we might not be able to access the market” because of the city’s current credit rating, deficit and debt level, said O’Brien.
“We could have a potential issue with market access,” said McNabola.
The bottom line is, “Don’t spend money that you don’t have,” said O’Brien, adding, “I inherited this mess and I’m fixing it.”
“I think it makes financial sense to do it in this fashion,” said McNabola. “It takes off budgetary pressures in terms of debt service.” Instead, the city will reopen the closed shop wing of the high school, which had been scheduled to be demolished this fall to make way for new construction, get its finances in order — most likely including bonding to cover the deficit, which is expected to grow by nearly $2 million to $10.5 million when audit of last fiscal year is complete — and resume the project in 2018 or 2019.
By then, the city’s bonded indebtedness will have begun to drop. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newington's Modern Concrete Adds Pink Pumper Truck To Fleet, Commits To Help Fight Breast Cancer
NEWINGTON — Pink is not a color you normally associate with concrete.But Modern Concrete owner Marcus King is out to change that. Moved by two women he knows who are battling breast cancer, King decided he wanted to support them and raise consciousness about the deadly disease.His inspiration: Have his new 38,000-pound concrete pumper truck painted pink, with breast cancer ribbons as highlights. Stenciled on the vehicle's gas tank are the names of the women, Kim Corriveau and Nancy Foley, with the encouragement that they "Kick Ass.""It gets people thinking about their mammogram or asking their mother or sister when their last one was," King said. "It makes people think about it more than once a year."To send that message year-round, the 31-foot truck will remain pink throughout its expected 10- to 20-year service with the firm, King said. Modern Concrete will donate to breast cancer charities 20 cents for every yard of concrete pumped by the machine, King said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUEPink Truck In Granby


October 27, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 27, 2015

$10 million for proposed Barnum train station in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT - The state has snagged a coveted $10 million federal grant to help build a new Metro-North train station in a downtrodden East Side neighborhood desperate for a major economic lift.
“This is great news for our city and its future,” said Mayor Bill Finch, who believes the station will trigger a 700-acre redevelopment of the low-income, crime-ridden section of the city.
The highly competitive grant from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery fund will be used to design a $146 million Barnum Station on the former Remington Arms factory property.
“Bridgeport’s new Barnum Station - the second rail stop in the state’s largest city - will serve as a much needed catalyst for job creation and economic growth,” Finch said. “We’ll be able to move this game-changing, job creating project forward.”
New “circus” in town
But despite the celebrating in Bridgeport, not everyone is convinced a second train station — named after circus showman and former Bridgeport mayor P.T. Barnum — is a top priority, or will spur the promised economic miracle on the city’s East Side.
“If we can assume that the new station will have additional parking and be part of a redevelopment plan, this may be a good thing,” said James Cameron, founder of the Commuter Action Group, which advocates for Metro-North riders. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Demolition of old New Britain police headquarters begins

NEW BRITAIN — The city took a major step toward revitalizing the downtown area Monday by taking a hammer to the former police headquarters on Columbus Boulevard.
Ken Malinowski, director of the city’s Department of Municipal Development, said his department is finalizing a request for proposal that will seek a master developer to redevelop the entire site.
“Over the next few months, Wiese Construction will be removing the asbestos from this building,” Malinowski said. “When they’re done it will be pretty much of a shell and it will come down for new development.”
Funding for the project comes from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of Brownfields Remediation and Development and the City of New Britain.
Mayor Erin Stewart; state Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, Department of Economic and Community Development deputy commissioner Tim Sullivan, and  Malinowski each took a whack at the rear wall of the formidable building.
The former police station was built in 1968. Town Clerk Mark Bernacki recalled that before the  station was built the area was mostly industrial. Now the city has moved into a new phase.
“Hopefully, developers will want to build the kind of structure that will appeal to young professionals who use CTfastrak,” he said. “They’re discovering they can get quality housing here at a reasonable price with amenities such as bars or restaurants. Putting more properties back on the Grand List would be fantastic.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Walk in the park reveals continued progress of Meriden Hub project

MERIDEN — A large swath of the Meriden Hub park is already covered in green grass, while an amphitheater dug into a slope overlooking Harbor Brook is taking shape.
Several contractors were at the soon-to-be downtown park Monday working to complete a flood control and beautification project many years in the making. One crew spread topsoil in the area of Pratt and Mill streets, where a 45-foot flagpole will eventually be erected. Another crew put the final touches on the 300-foot pedestrian bridge spanning the park. At the end of the week, workers will start pouring concrete to form the bridge’s walkway, said Joseph LaRosa, co-owner of LaRosa Construction Co. and the project’s general manager.
“We are going to be in decent shape,” LaRosa said Monday morning while walking through the construction site.
Much of the project is expected to be finished by the end of December, but work will continue early next year before the park’s grand opening toward the end of May, he said.
An amphitheater at the corner of State and Mill streets is nearly complete. The amphitheater has four rows of sitting walls. The walls overlook a stage not far from where Jordan Brook converges with Harbor Brook. The stage will be under a cover that can be removed in the winter, LaRosa said. The area behind the amphitheater along State and Mill streets is available for mixed-use development.
There is still more work to do on the amphitheater, “but the whole area is coming together,” Public Works Director Robert Bass said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers has lodged separate lawsuits against its partner in developing the $125 million Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods and architects it hired to provide design and administrative services for the project.
In a suit filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Tanger, based in Greensboro, N.C., seeks to recover an “excess development fee” of about $568,000 that it says it paid to Gordon Group Holdings, its Greenwich-based development partner.
The Foxwoods outlets, an enclosed, 80-store mall linking Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Grand Pequot and Foxwoods towers, opened in May.
Tanger, which owns the mall, says in the suit that it agreed in 2012 to pay Gordon a development fee of 2.5 percent of the project’s “hard costs.” Nearly two years later, in March 2014, the parties reached an amended agreement that capped Gordon’s fee at $1 million, according to the suit.
Tanger claims it has paid Gordon $1,568,053 in fees and has been unable to recover the alleged overpayment. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hartford's Capitol Center apt. conversion gets state backing

Heading into negotiations over reducing state spending. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has announced over $20 million to create six affordable housing developments across the state. The housing grants, which come from the most recent Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties (CHAMP) funding round, will assist in creating and rehabilitating 230 affordable units and 52 market-rate units.
In Hartford, the Department of Housing will provide a loan up to $4.2 million and CHFA is expected to provide an approximately $11 million construction loan and approximately $862,000 in 4 percent LIHTC equity to assist in the adaptive re-use of a vacant six-story commercial building at 370 Asylum Street into a mixed-use, mixed-income development.
Several groups have tried to redevelop the property in recent years into mixed income apartments. The property was donated by foundation of Stamford technology entrepreneur Milton B. Hollander and his wife Betty Ruth the Northeast Neighborhood Partners, Inc., a Hartford-based nonprofit development firm. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Project To Bring Middletown Water To Durham

URHAM — A project to extend water from Middletown to homes and businesses in Durham that have contaminated drinking water will begin in 2016, state and federal officials announced Monday.
The $21 million project will include new pipes and equipment in south Middletown to supply clean water to about 100 buildings in Durham where two former manufacturing companies polluted the groundwater by disposing of the chemical solvent trichloroethylene, the federal Environmental Protection Agency said.
"For about 30 years now, we've had residents who have lived with the fear that their water could harm them," said Durham First Selectwoman Laura Francis. "This is the beginning of a permanent solution to that problem."
The EPA has deemed the area a Superfund site because of pollution from the Durham Manufacturing Co. and Merriam Manufacturing Co. The government has allocated $9 million so far for the project with another $9 million to come. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has said it will dedicate another $3 million for the project.
Officials said the agreement was finalized recently but took years of negotiations between Durham, Middlefield, the EPA and several state agencies.
Regional School District 13, which operates its own water system, will be one of the customers buying water from Middletown. School officials said there is no additional cost in switching to municipal water, and the district will not have to maintain its own system. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


October 26, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 26, 2015

Malloy Team: Transportation Is Key To State Economy

HARTFORD — With the state's short-term financial picture looking bleaker, two senior officials in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration made a pitch Friday for preserving a proposed $100 billion overhaul of Connecticut's transportation network.
Widening traffic-clogged interstates, replacing aging bridges and rebuilding dilapidated roads are all vital to keeping employers in Connecticut and attracting new ones, they said at a press briefing at the Capitol.
"Transportation is a very big, important part of our economy and a big part of why people want to be here," Commissioner Catherine Smith of the economic and community development department told reporters.
"Two-thirds of what's in the plan is basic infrastructure (maintenance)," said Transportation Commissioner James Redeker, who warned that cutbacks would just add to the backlog of repairs and maintenance the highways and mass transit systems need.
Malloy is scheduled to begin talks with legislative leaders Monday on ways to close the estimated $118 million deficit in the current budget. After news of the shortfall surfaced in late September, some lawmakers have publicly questioned whether Connecticut can still afford the 30-year, $100 billion plan.
Malloy is resistant to scaling back the ambitious plan, saying traffic congestion — especially along the highways and throughout Fairfield County — is costing taxpayers and businesses time and money every year. Smith said Connecticut enjoys the unique geographic advantage of being between Boston and Manhattan, but cautioned that businesses will look elsewhere if their products, customers and employees are chronically stranded in traffic. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Power plant dominates Oxford race

In Oxford politics this fall, “power broker” is a loaded term.
The first selectman’s race has turned into a referendum on the construction of a natural gas-fired power plant in town, where environmentalists have collided with the local administration over the project’s impact.
Two-term Republican incumbent George Temple says the Towantic Energy Center project will dramatically boost power generation and local tax revenues.
Democrat Kathy Johnson, who occupied Oxford’s top office from 2001 to 2003, is looking to harness the public’s opposition to the project, which has drawn protests from the Sierra Club to the quiet New Haven County town of 12,000.
“I don’t believe any money in the world is worth the health of people,” said Johnson, 68. “I’ll do everything in my power to stop it. I’m not seeing that it fits what we wanted for Oxford, which was to preserve our rural character.”
Temple, 69, who has led Oxford since 2011 and is a former town attorney, said his opponent is grasping at straws.
“I think that’s basically the only issue that she has,” Temple said.
Construction on the 785-megawatt power station could start before the end of the year, according to Temple, who emphasized that the plant has received the required approvals from the Connecticut Siting Council. It will occupy a 25-acre parcel of land on Woodruff Hill Road.
“The power plant is here, whether we support it or not,” Temple said. “I’m a realist.”
Temple said the power plant will boost energy production by 48 percent and could generate up to $112 million in tax payments over the next 22 years by its Maryland-based owner, Competitive Power Ventures.
“I think it could be very good for Oxford in terms of the money that it’s going to bring,” Temple said. “I don’t think it’s the environmental hazard that it’s painted to be.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Gas line likely to connect American Industries to Plainfield

GRISWOLD - Yankee Gas, a subsidiary of Eversource, and American Industries are in negotiations to construct a gas line along Route 12 between Plainfield and the plant's location on Plainfield Road in Griswold.
According to Economic Development Commission meeting minutes from Sept. 16, the negotiations between Yankee Gas and American needed just one more signature for an official commitment for the gas line to be installed.
Eversource's only comment is that the negotiations are ongoing.The discussions have the support of town officials who see the installation of a natural gas line as a strong first step toward providing water, sewer and natural gas for businesses interested in setting up shop in Griswold.According to Tom Giard, chairman of Griswold's Economic Development Commission, providing water, sewer and natural gas in the town and borough is the long-term plan. There currently are no natural gas options in the town or borough.Jim Barnie, a member of the Economic Development Commission, said the board hopes the gas line, if officially agreed on, can extend from American Industries into Jewett City where residents and businesses along Main Street can take advantage of a new energy source."We have so many apartments that are electrically heated, and utilities and rent take a large percentage of income,” Barnie said. "The negotiations are driven by whether there will be enough customers and to see if they see there’s profits here."According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the cost of natural gas per thousand cubic feet in July 2015 in a residence costs $18.22. The commercial price in the same month cost $9.29.Because the stretch between Plainfield to American Industries is on Route 12, which is a state road, the approval of construction will go through the state. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Exit 25 off-ramp paving to begin in I-84 project 

WATERBURY -- This week on Interstate 84, crews will begin paving the new Exit 25 eastbound off-ramp and paving the median on I-84 eastbound from Harpers Ferry Road to Austin Road.
The work is part of the highway reconstruction project between Washington Street and Pierpont Road, which includes widening the roadway to three lanes in each direction and eliminating an S-curve near Harpers Ferry Road.
Last week, Harpers Ferry Road closed from Plank Road to Ashmun Street for sewer and water work. Crews will install new sewer and water lines to make room for a retaining wall along Harpers Ferry Road. The closure is expected to last another seven weeks.
Meanwhile, the closed section of Plank Road between Brookdale Lane and Harpers Ferry Road has reopened to local traffic only. Detour signs are in place to direct vehicles around the construction site.
Also this week, there will be shoulder paving on I-84 westbound between Washington Street to Hamilton Avenue.
In addition, construction will continue of the new south abutment, stem and wing wall on the western portion of the Hamilton Avenue bridge. Also, construction of the southern pier is underway.
Work to remove the old pedestrian bridge over the Mad River to Hamilton Park will occur this week, and workers will rig and set the new pedestrian bridge.
Other work this week includes forming and pouring concrete for the first abutment of the new bridge carrying the Exit 24 eastbound off-ramp over the Mad River, along with construction of a retaining wall south of the Exit 23 eastbound on-ramp.
Crews are also continuing to construct the new Exit 23 westbound off ramp, which is located north of the existing ramp.
On Reidville Drive, one lane will be closed intermittently with alternating traffic for the excavation and trucking of materials. Also, jacking of a ductile pipe for a new sewer pipe under I-84, east of Hamilton Avenue, will occur this week.
Rock blasting will occur on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., along Reidville Drive. Traffic will be stopped on I-84, Hamilton Avenue, Harpers Ferry Road and Reidville Drive at the time of blasting.     

Naugatuck close on plans for Parcel C

NAUGATUCK — Local leaders are as close as they have ever been to rebuilding on a vacant piece of prime commercial real estate property downtown known as Parcel C.
The 2.2-acre tract on the corner of Maple and Water streets has long been a primary focus of redevelopment efforts and several proposals for that land — a movie theater, a pharmacy, housing units and others — have failed while the land has sat vacant for more than 30 years.
Now, however, there is a plan that officials believe will stick.
"I think it's fair to say this is as close as we've come" to development on the property, Mayor Robert A. Mezzo said. "But there as been a lot of work to get us to this point and there is still more work to do — albeit on the developers' end — if everything goes as expected on Monday."
Monday night developers Rob Oris and John Lombard will reveal publicly for the first time architectural renderings of their proposal. It calls for development of at least a 30,000-square-foot medical building anchored by Saint Mary's Hospital of Waterbury. Additionally, they want to build a 5,000-square-foot restaurant.
They will meet at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall with the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp. and will present their proposals in open session. The NEDC board is expected to vote to give a favorable review to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, the borough's governing body, which must approve these types of projects. The board has a special meeting scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
Mezzo said he believes officials will be pleased with the proposal.
"What I've seen is a very impressive proposed building and smaller pad site adjacent to it that is consistent with the historical architecture in downtown," he said. "Once constructed, it would provide a very attractive gateway to our downtown." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


October 23, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 23, 2015

Hartford Baseball Stadium Developers Want to Add Hotel

 Construction in September at the site of Dunkin' Donuts Park, slated for completion in April 2016.
 The developers of the $350 million stadium and related retail, housing, and grocery store in downtown Hartford now want to include a hotel, the city said Friday.
In an email to the city council, Hartford's Chief Operating Officer Darrell Hill said the developers at DoNo Hartford LLC have started talks to modify their existing plans for the parcel across the street from the ballpark for the Hartford Yard Goats.
"All of the existing components (grocery, retail, residential and structured parking) remain in their proposed modification," Hill wrote. "Of specific note is that the size of the grocery store (40,000 s/f) is not changed in their requested modification."
Hill said the request will need the approval of the city council as well as the Planning and Zoning Commission.
"Both approval processes will include public presentations and provide the opportunity for public comment prior to the requested modifications being considered," Hill wrote. "The Administration is evaluating DoNo Hartford LLC's requested modifications, which upon initial review appears to be positive for our City and the Downtown North Project."
If approved, the hotel would be part of the retail and residential development that is in the second phase of the project's design.  Earlier this week, DoNo's Bob Landino said his company had decided to delay a groundbreaking on that second phase of construction to allow the firm to focus all of its attention on finishing the ballpark in time for opening day in April.
Immediate efforts to reach Council President Shawn Wooden were unsuccessful. Councilman Larry Deutsch questioned both the delay and the hotel. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hartford Hospital topping off new orthopedic care space

The Bone & Joint Institute, now under construction at Hartford Hospital, will have its topping-off ceremony this afternoon. It is being billed as the most advanced orthopedic care facility in the region.
Hartford Healthcare is in the midst of a major five-year capital spending plan headlined by the $110 million bone and joint institute that will reshape Hartford Hospital's Seymour Street campus. The capital investments, which could reach $1.2 billion, also will fund a health information technology makeover and significant expansion of Hartford Healthcare's ambulatory care network
The five-floor institute is 130,000 square feet. It will have 10 operating rooms and 48 to 52 inpatient beds with the capability of expanding to nearly 80 beds. Diagnostic services will be offered at the institute, as well as orthopedic urgent care.
The ambulatory and medical space will consist of three floors; 35,000 total square feet; offices for orthopedics, rheumatology and neurosciences; and three ambulatory surgery rooms – with space for two additional operating rooms.
The hospital said in a statement it is pushing ahead with the project even while cutting costs in a difficult environment. It says the new institute is part of its vision to a greater audience of patients while lowering costs. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Middletown Voters To Decide On $48M Parks, Sewer Referendum Questions

MIDDLETOWN — City voters will decide on two referendum questions in the Nov. 3 election that, if approved, will allow the city to pursue $33.45 million in funding for improvements to parks and fields and $15 million to cover a funding shortfall for the sewer project begun by the city last year.
The money for the parks would pay for projects around the city over a 10- to 12-year period. The extensive list of work includes playground renovations, new tennis and basketball courts, lighting, seating, bathrooms and a new pool at Veterans Memorial Park.
After extensive debate over three meetings this summer, the common council narrowly decided to recommend that all playing fields use natural grass surfaces instead of artificial turf.
A consultant studying the parks work recommended the synthetic surface, but dozens of residents complained that some studies show the rubber filling in artificial fields may contain toxic substances.
Some parents of children in sports programs supported using artificial turf because it provides a playing surface that is more durable and easier to maintain, but they were outnumbered by those opposed to it.
The sewer work question would add $15 million in funding to $40 million that has already been approved by voters and the common council.
Officials have blamed the added costs on inadequate estimates from engineering firm CDR Maguire and increases in labor and material costs since the project was first designed.
The project includes building a pump station on East Main Street and a pipeline to link the city with the Mattabassett District  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Glastonbury Council Approves $1.18M Plan To Replace Eastern Boulevard Bridge Leading To Gateway Medical Campus

GLASTONBURY — A new bridge is planned for the road leading to a large medical campus in town.
The town council has approved a $1.8 million plan to replace the Eastern Boulevard bridge across Salmon Brook.
The road takes 6,000 cars a day from Hebron Avenue to the Gateway Medical Campus and on to Addison Road.
In 2009, the state Department of Transportation gave the bridge a "poor" rating along with spans on Naubuc Avenue, Addison Road and Fisher Hill. The Naubuc Avenue bridge was restored and the Addison Road bridge has been replaced. Fisher Hill Road bridge will be replaced in 2016.
"It is a structural deficiency driving the poor rating," Town Engineer and Director of Physical Services Daniel A. Pennington said. "I don't want to alarm anyone. The structure is very safe to pass over. There are no worries in the short term, but it is time to address the replacement of that bridge."
Pennington said the current structure was built in 1956 and is beginning to buckle under the road surface. He noted portions of the steel structure have lost some of their protective asphalt coating and are rusting.
Pennington said the project will use accelerated bridge techniques that will require one-way traffic for several weeks, and then a road closure for eight weeks. A prefabricated concrete deck structure will be put in on concrete footings secured 25 to 30 feet into the bedrock. A new road surface will be installed.
"I feel it is important in this area, even though we have a very viable detour," he said. "This road is the gateway to our Gateway [Medical Campus]. That's a lot of traffic to displace for a long period of time." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

October 22, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 22, 2015

Major sewer rehabilitation project in store for central Greenwich

The town is on the verge of beginning a major sewer rehabilitation project that will create a closure and detour on Bruce Park Avenue.
The detour will stretch from Havemeyer Place to Davis Avenue and is expected to be in place for one week. A time has yet to be determined, due to construction questions still needing to be settled, but the work is expected to take place in late October or early November and again twice more — for less than 12 hours at a time — in mid-to-late November.
Residents and business owners in the area will be notified when an exact date is set and signage will be put in place to alert drivers.
“We continue to do these types of projects all over town,” Richard Feminella, wastewater division manager for the town Department of Public Works, told the selectmen last week.
Workers will be rehabilitating a 600-foot segment of a 39-inch interceptor sewer line on Bruce Park Avenue near Davis Avenue. The town will have to utilize an easement it has behind homes on Bruce Park Avenue and near the railroad tracks north of Interstate 95.
Feminella told the selectmen last week prior to getting unanimous approval for the road closure and detour that the interceptor in question handles a “significant portion” of the town’s wastewater collection and sees a substantial flow go through it. A bypass will have to be used in order for the work to proceed without interrupting service to homes and businesses.
To put the bypass in place, close to 110 feet of temporary lines and two temporary manholes will be constructed at the Bruce Park/Davis intersection, requiring excavation in the middle of the street and other disruptions, necessitating the closure and detour.
“It’s a complicated bypass,” Feminella said.
Feminella said it would be similar to what was used by DPW during the 2014 sewer rehabilitation project at Horseneck Lane and Shore Road. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Meriden land transfer clears way for razing Mills, building new

MERIDEN — The demolition of the Mills Memorial Apartments complex and the building of a new housing and commercial building are both a step closer after a pivotal vote Wednesday by the Planning Commission.
Commission members voted unanimously at a special meeting to approve the transfer of two city-owned properties — 177 State St. and 62 Cedar St. — to the Meriden Housing Authority.
“This is all for flood control purposes and so we can tear down the Mills,” City Planner Dominick Caruso told the commission. “This development ... we’ve already started to review the plans for that, and this is the mechanics behind it, essentially.”
The transfer will enable the MHA and partner Pennrose Properties to build a four-story, 96,700-square-foot mixed-use, mixed-income building with 75 apartment units, roughly 6,500 square feet of ground floor commercial space, and an 80-space parking lot.
The development is part of a larger plan to demolish the aging, outdated Mills apartments and extend flood control measures into that area.
The new building would include 23 apartments that serve as replacement units for residents displaced from Mills; 37 affordable units; and 15 market-rate units. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Norwich — Representatives from the Connecticut Siting Council and the development firm hoping to build a 2.74-megawatt solar power project at the city landfill toured four areas of the Rogers Road site Wednesday as part of the state review process for the project.
Representatives from SolarCity, which would own and operate the facility, and Brightfields Development LLC, joined Norwich city Engineer Patrick McLaughlin in a hike to the top of two steeply sloped former landfill areas and back down again to view two flat fields across Rogers Road from the landfill.
The proposed project would include a combined total of 8,854 solar panels on the four sites to generate 2.74 megawatts of electric power that would be fed into Norwich Public Utilities lines.
SolarCity has a 20-year solar purchase power agreement with the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative, a consortium of municipally owned power generators in the state.
Michael Singer, principal of Brightfields Development, who led the 90-minute tour Wednesday, told state officials that the smaller of the two non-landfill areas would be developed only if it proves economically feasible.
Solar panels on that field, at the corner of Rogers Road and North Wawecus Hill Road, could generate only 83 kilowatts of electricity, Singer said.
Standing atop the former bulky waste landfill — which offered commanding views of the hilly, rural western Norwich landscape — Singer explained how the panels would be erected on platforms that would not penetrate the sealed landfill cap. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Sale completed on Norwich portion of former hospital property

Norwich — The sale of the nearly 50-acre Norwich portion of the former Norwich Hospital property to a private developer for $300,000 was completed Wednesday — with the transaction signed by state officials and the developer, and recorded in Norwich land records.
Developer Mark Fields of Colchester, who signed documents as the manager of the development firm Thames River Landing LLC, which first reached a deal to buy the Norwich portion of the hospital property in 2012.
Fields said Wednesday he has no definite plans for the property he has been pursuing since 2004, both the Norwich and Preston portions of the former state hospital site.
“Now that we got title, we have to pursue all possibilities and give it a lot of thought on what we're going to do, and then start the application process,” Fields said Wednesday. “I've been talking to people for years, but until I had title to the property I couldn't have any serious talks.”
Thames River Landing LLC paid a $30,000 deposit on the Norwich property when it was approved as the purchaser in 2012, and paid the remaining $270,000 Wednesday, state Department of Administrative Services spokesman Jeffrey Beckham said.
Thames River Landing took out a $450,000 mortgage on the property from Castanho Development LLC of East Hartford.
The sale involves a 40.95-acre parcel on the east side of Route 12 at the Preston line that includes a former residential subdivision for hospital employees along with institutional buildings. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Farmington School Board Questions Legality Of Apartment Complex Easement

FARMINGTON — An attorney for the school board says that the town council did not have the authority to grant an easement near the site of a proposed 268-unit apartment complex in Unionville.
CenterPlan Development Co. has proposed the $60 million complex on 10 acres at 19 Perry St., adjacent to the Union School and bordering the Farmington River.
On Sept. 8, the council voted 5-2 to grant a 3-acre easement from the rear of the 19 Perry St. site, outside the fence that forms the perimeter around the far side of Union School's field and out onto Mill Street, contingent on approval by other boards and commissions.
Thomas Mooney, the school board attorney, wrote a letter to the town attorney on Oct. 6, saying the property was under the jurisdiction and control of the board.
"The town council took this action notwithstanding our conversation in August in which I informed you that the board of education asserts the property in question is currently dedicated to use for school purposes and that, accordingly, the town does not have the legal authority to grant rights to others with regard to that land," Mooney wrote. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer Delays Second Phase of Hartford Baseball Stadium Construction

The developer building Hartford’s new $56 million minor league baseball stadium is now saying that a groundbreaking on the second phase of the revitalization project will be delayed until the spring.
The baseball stadium is only part of the roughly $350 million development in downtown Hartford. The city is paying for the stadium. But the developer is financing the second phase -- with retail, housing, and other amenities -- which was to have broken ground this fall. But that’s not going to happen.
“We were nervous that, if we started [the second phase] prior to the completion of the ballpark, that it would dilute our commitment to the ballpark -- and that’s obviously the most critical and time-sensitive event that we’re working on,” developer Bob Landino said. He expects the second phase of construction to start early next year. “We will break ground sometime in the spring, once the ballpark is completed.”
Landino said the delay is well within the scope of his contract with the city. Immediate efforts to reach the city were unsuccessful.
“The difference between November and March or April certainly isn’t enough time to reinforce skeptics,” Landino said. “If the end of next year happens and we haven’t done anything, then I think it’s a legitimate point.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Haven plan commission approves housing proposal for Anderson Street

NEW HAVEN >> Three attached homes were approved Wednesday for Anderson Street, which the developer hopes will be ready before the next academic year begins in a neighborhood that attracts many Yale University graduate students.
The three single-family, three-bedroom units will be located on a lot at 66 Anderson St. in East Rock.
They originally wanted to build five residences, but that was scaled back after the neighbors objected.
The City Planning Commission unanimously approved the development by Larry Levinson and John Esposito Jr.
There is also an existing law office on the site fronting on Anderson that will remain, while the commission gave the OK for the demolition of a building that previously housed automotive uses and storage at the rear of the lot.
The owners testified that there is no hazardous material in the building that will be removed.
They plan to start construction as soon as possible with completion by June 2016.
The commission, in other action, approved a special exception for Elm City Auto Wrecking to continue to run its motor vehicle junkyard at 46 Middletown Ave.
It’s permit had expired in May 2012 and the Building Department issued a cease and desist order in July for violating the terms of that special exception which required that “no junk yard related business or activities shall be conducted on Fawn Street or Middletown Avenue.”
At the time, the city had determined the business had spilled onto Fawn Street, but that has been cleaned up. The auto wrecking business also was found in compliance with the city’s coastal management plan. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


October 21, 2015

CT Constructin Digest October 21, 2015

UConn downtown seen as bright spot in soft construction climate

The $115 million University of Connecticut construction is seen as a bright spot in an otherwise soft construction market nationwide for educational facilities. A report on nationwide construction shows educational construction down 20 percent from August while overall construction was down 5 percent.
According to Dodge Data & Analytics, UConn's Hartford project, the $300 million Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles California, and a $130 million preparatory school in New York N.Y., were the major construction projects that saw construction commence in September.
The downtown campus will open for classes in fall 2017, according to UConn, with about 2,300 students and 250 faculty members. Construction includes the addition of a new attached five-story building, while retaining the iconic Beaux-Arts fa├žade of the 95-year-old Hartford Times structure. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Apartments drive home construction gains in September

WASHINGTON (AP) — Construction companies built more apartment complexes in September, sparking a temporary rise in housing starts for a real estate market that otherwise appears to have crested during the summer.
Housing starts last month rose 6.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million homes, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. But a 17 percent surge in multi-family housing — which includes apartments — accounts for almost all of that increase.
New construction and sales of existing homes surged in the first half of the year as more Americans found work and the unemployment rate dipped to a solid 5.1 percent. But tight inventories, rising prices and the absence of meaningful wage growth have capped growth as affordability has become an issue — a problem that new construction can help resolve.
"Builders are stepping up to meet that demand but doing so cautiously," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. "So, for beleaguered buyers who can't find what they are looking for because of a dearth of listings, there is a bit of help on the way."
Construction rose last month in the Northeast, South and West, while falling in the Midwest.
Housing starts have soared 12 percent in the first nine months of 2015. But the pace of building retreated from its June apex, in part due to the expiration of tax incentives for developers in New York. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Developer details conceptual plan for major Mystic project

Mystic — The owner of 70 acres of the Perkins Farm property is developing a conceptual plan for what could be the largest project in Stonington history, a $40 million to $60 million development that would create a health, research and academic campus with a residential component.
David Lattizori, who had been quietly working on the idea since May and had hoped to hold off on publicizing it until he could complete his review and make a decision whether to move forward, discussed the idea on Tuesday after First Selectman George Crouse mentioned it at last week’s selectmen’s debate.
Crouse said it would generate $1 million a year in tax revenue for the town.
Lattizori — whose family’s unsuccessful efforts in the past to develop the site with a mix of uses including retail and commercial had met with opposition from some residents and town officials — said he is optimistic this idea would be more acceptable.
He said it has no retail component and has been met with initial support from town officials and some residents of the Stone Ridge retirement community located across Jerry Browne Road from the site.
“This type of project would be a home run for the town,” he said. “I do feel this concept is the highest and best use for the property.”
Lattizori currently has zoning approval to build 36 homes on the property and had planned to begin construction on the first five lots next spring.
But he is holding off on that plan until he finishes exploring the new concept.
Lattizori stressed the project is still in the preliminary planning stages. No applications have been filed with the town for zoning or sewer approval.
Although he has quietly been meeting with small groups of Stone Ridge residents, Selectman Rob Simmons and some town officials over the past five months, he said he wants to complete a detailed plan before presenting it to the public and the overall Stone Ridge community. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

DOT Invites Public To Hear I-84 Viaduct Plans

HARTFORD — State engineers planning the replacement of the I-84 viaduct are holding a round of public meetings in West Hartford and Hartford to try to reduce the number of options on the table.
The multibillion-dollar project will shape traffic patterns and influence the city's character for decades, so the transportation department is working to get as much opinion as possible before settling on a specific strategy.
The viaduct is the elevated structure that carries I-84 through the middle of Hartford. The three primary options are to simply build a new viaduct, run the highway through a tunnel, or construct it at ground level. Each choice carries a long series of related options that will affect nearby neighborhoods, local businesses and the downtown street map as well as cyclists and pedestrians.
Anyone interested in the project is invited to two public meetings. DOT engineers will give presentations outlining the progress that's been made so far, and will then field questions from the public.
The meetings both run from 4 to 8 p.m.. They're scheduled for Oct. 22 at the Elmwood Community Center on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford, and Oct. 29 at the Hartford Public Library on Main Street. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 Airport Authority Wants A Casino At Bradley

The Connecticut Airport Authority is proposing a casino at Bradley International Airport, as developers of a competing casino in Springfield have scaled back their plan.
Kevin Dillon, the authority's executive director, said the authority is looking to host a casino that the operators of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun want to open in the capital region, under a state-sanctioned process that also requires the backing of the town of Windsor Locks, where the airport is located.
"We have approached Windsor Locks to move this forward with us," said Dillon. "This would be a nice amenity for travelers and another source of non-aeronautical revenue for the airport."
Discussions are underway with the town, Dillon said, but local officials have not made any commitments for what could be the only airport-based casino in the country.
The airport joins a growing list of potential casino locations in the Hartford area as Connecticut looks to protect its gambling industry from the new mega-casino in Springfield.
The Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have required that bids contain sign-offs by both the developer and the town or city where the proposed casino would be built. But formal zoning and other local approvals are not yet necessary. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Plans move forward to rehab Carrigan Intermediate School in West Haven

WEST HAVEN >> The Board of Education is moving forward with a project to make $7.23 million in much-needed maintenance and improvements at Carrigan Intermediate School — with a net, post-state-reimbursement cost to the city of $1.48 million.
The board’s unanimous vote this week comes at a sensitive, challenging time for the city — during which a cumulative deficit that is expected to grow to $10.5 million when the last fiscal year’s audit is complete already threatens a much larger, $124.69 million project to rebuild West Haven High School.
But everyone agrees that Carrigan, built in 1969 and never fully renovated, needs work.
And even those raising questions about the high school project, including Mayor Ed O’Brien and Director of Finance Kevin McNabola, say the Carrigan project is doable and should go forward.
“I think we have to move ahead with this project,” O’Brien said Tuesday. Among other things, “The roof needs to be done.”
The way the project is being designed, “we’re leveraging our money,” O’Brien said.
Despite the city’s fiscal challenges, “I think we need to move ahead when it makes sense to move ahead — and this one makes sense,” he said, essentially agreeing with Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro.
Cavallaro said he has concerns about getting City Council approval in the current fiscal environment, “but I’m hoping that they’ll see the value of the project. We’ve looked for a long time at how we can get the best bang for our buck.”
The school system has a number of schools in need of repair, “Carrigan being the neediest,” Cavallaro said. “The roof is 25 years old and we need to replace it.” But “just replacing the roof doesn’t make the building what it should be.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


October 20, 2015

CT Construction Digest October 20, 2015

Affordability of Connecticut transportation plan questioned

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's lingering budget problems are prompting questions about whether the state can afford Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed 20-year, $100 billion plan to overhaul aging roads, bridges and rail lines.
Despite calls to put "people before projects" — a phrase used by family members of the intellectually disabled who are worried about Malloy's mid-year budget cuts to human services — the Democratic governor is standing by his massive initiative. He contends people don't understand how years of underinvesting in transportation have harmed the state economically.
"I think people seize arguments to try to bolster the point that they want make without examining the consequences of a lack of investment," he said in an interview with The Associated Press, adding how the traffic congestion cost in Connecticut is $4.2 billion annually.
"No one disagrees that Connecticut is under-invested in transportation. Everybody wants a better transportation system, but nobody wants to pay for it," he said, adding how years of underfunding transportation occurred because that money has been raided for other programs.
"It's always something before projects," he said. "But eventually, the projects come home to roost."
Republican and Democratic legislators in recent weeks have voiced concerns about the $103 million in mid-year budget cuts Malloy is making to help balance the $20 billion state budget, just three months into the new fiscal year. Some are suggesting scaling back funds earmarked for transportation to help offset cuts to hospitals, mental health care, day programs for people with developmental disabilities and other initiatives.
"My opinion is, transportation should still be an option," said Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, the co-chairman of the General Assembly's Human Services Committee. "I still don't believe we have to do everything in this budget, not at the expense of our families who are being hurt by these cuts." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Eversource files Northern Pass application with state panel

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The utility seeking to pull Canadian hydropower into New Hampshire filed its application with state regulators Monday, five years after the project was proposed.
Hartford, Connecticut-based Eversource has proposed a 192-mile transmission line from Pittsburgh to Deerfield, carrying 1,090 megawatts of hydro-power produced by Canada's biggest hydro generator, HydroQuebec. That's enough to power a million homes and supporters say it will help to trim energy costs for consumers in New England, who pay some of the nation's highest costs for electricity.
"Today's filing marks another important milestone in our effort to deliver a clean energy solution that our customers desperately need in order to diversify our power supply and stabilize energy prices," said Bill Quinlan, president of Eversource operations in New Hampshire.
The filing to the Site Evaluation Committee comes after a week of good news and bad news for the region's electricity users: Energy analysts are forecasting lower heating oil prices this winter but last week, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts announced it would shut down by June 2019, taking its 680 megawatts off the grid.
After vocal opposition to the overhead lines, especially through scenic areas in the White Mountains, Eversource in August announced it would bury 60 miles through the mountains and reduce the height of some of its poles. In Monday's application, the company said that after listening to people during public appearances since the August proposal, it was modifying 60 more power poles to address complaints about the impact on views.
Beyond the visual and environmental effects, critics of the power lines say they would damage property values and do little to trim costs for New Hampshire customers while benefiting users in thirstier Southern New England markets. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
West Hartford Center just got denser.
A pair of North Main Street developments — an 18-unit apartment building and a 16,800-square-foot office building, both in the shadow of Blue Back Square — are proving their promoters and the town justified in proceeding with their multimillion-dollar investments.
Developer Niko Koutouvides has signed leases for half the $2,000- to $3,000-a-month units in his apartment building at 24 N. Main St., but so far only four or five units are occupied.
Diagonally across the street, landlord David Sessions and his realty partners have filled all but 800 square feet on the ground floor of their new office building at 15 N. Main that opened earlier in the month. Major tenants Janney Montgomery Scott Securities and temp office-space provider Regus are West Hartford newcomers.
Just down North Main, the Kaoud family is converting the former Masonic lodge into street-level retail topped with 24 apartments. On the edge of Blue Back Square, across from Whole Foods, work is underway on the Delamar West Hartford luxury hotel.
In the town's Bishops Corner neighborhood, the former Haven Health Care nursing home is being converted into 64 apartments. On North Main, in an existing apartment property across from Big Y Supermarket, a developer is adding more units. On Steele Road, a 150-unit luxury apartment community is rising. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction brings excitement, risk to Hartford

Scaffolding, cranes and inevitable construction project delays are once again in Hartford's future. There is a buzz in the air surrounding several large construction projects presently in the design or construction phase in and around Hartford.
Construction on the Yard Goats' ballpark is moving full speed ahead on the border of Hartford's North End as part of the new $350 million Downtown North mixed-use development plan. The University of Connecticut is also in the design development phase of UConn Hartford, where classes are expected to begin as early as fall 2017. A few other projects include Trinity College's purchase of the former Travelers Education Center at Constitution Plaza, the fairly recent completion of the XL Center's $35 million facelift, the $25 million Intermodal Triangle Project connecting Bushnell Park to public transportation, potential renovations to the Goodwin Square office tower and, of course, the much anticipated I-84 viaduct project.
While growth and construction is exciting and stimulates our local economy, it is important for those in the industry, including public and private owners, developers and contractors, to be mindful of the inherent costs associated with project delays. Public and private owners rely upon construction professionals to estimate the duration of a project so that associated hard and soft costs can be quantified and properly budgeted.
Many construction projects today consist of renovations to an existing building or involve multiple phases or projects managed separately as part of a single owner's construction program. It is very difficult for designers on such projects to account for and incorporate all existing conditions into their drawings and specifications and for contractors to anticipate all future coordination issues. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE