January 29, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 29, 2016

UConn considers sites in Stamford for dorms

The University of Connecticut is considering nearly a dozen sites for student dormitories in Stamford, including a plan to house students in a building now under construction next to the Government Center. Developer Randy Salvatore’s mixed-use development on Washington Boulevard is one of 11 options UConn is considering for possible dormitories at its regional campus in Stamford.
 Among the other sites under consideration are the northernmost building in St. John’s Towers, which is currently being renovated, and a surface parking lot near the Franklin Street Works gallery.

Bridgeport asbestos contractor takes heat in Stamford

The Bridgeport-based company that signs off on the removal of asbestos in Stamford’s 20 schools may have an inappropriate relationship with the company that assigns the work.
AMC Environmental is responsible for testing for asbestos before and after remediation.
The company is located at 622 Clinton Ave. in Bridgeport, the same address as AFB Construction Management, the firm that handles maintenance and repair contracts for Stamford schools.
The Bridgeport building, which displays both companies’ names on a sign in the front yard, is owned by an eponymous limited liability corporation registered to Alfonso Barbarotta, AFB’s chief executive officer.
Barbarotta also is well known in Trumbull through his contracts managing school facilities. He recently won a $20,000 settlement from the town after claiming Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst blackballed his business as part of a political vendetta.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Mattabassett District sewer project nearing halfway point

MIDDLETOWN >> Contractors are closing in on the halfway point of the project to install a sewage pipeline that will connect the city to the Mattabassett water treatment plant in Cromwell.  Work on the first half of the Mattabassett District’s regionalization project is 85 percent finished, Water & Sewer Director Guy Russo said Thursday. Presently, two horizontal directional drilling pipes under the Mattabassett River at the Middletown-Cromwell line are being installed.
Completion of the pipeline portion of the project is slated to be done by May 25. Once the project is complete, the plant will treat 675 million gallons of wastewater a day, Russo said. The treatment facility processes waste from Middletown, New Britain, Cromwell and Berlin.
In early 2013, the city paid $13 million to join the Mattabassett District. Contractors broke ground on the project in May 2014. Initially estimated to take 18 months to complete, a six-month extension was granted after sewer pipes cracked during the summer, Russo said.
Voters first approved what would have been a $37 million project in 2012. In 2014, the common council approved an additional $3 million. In 2015, voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question allocating an additional $15 million, bringing the total budget to $55 million. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

East Windsor Puts 2 More Sites In Play For Casino: Former Showcase Cinemas, Former Wal-Mart

EAST WINDSOR — Two more sites easily visible from I-91 could be in the running for casino development.
One is the former site of Showcase Cinemas, the other of a former Wal-Mart. They are near each other and immediately east of the highway. First Selectman Robert Maynard said both sites will be recommended for possible casino development to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal group, MMCT, this week.
MMCT wants to build a casino north of Hartford along I-91 to blunt the effect of the MGM Springfield casino being built just miles from the Massachusetts-Connecticut line.
Earlier this month, Maynard announced the first site proposed for casino development in East Windsor — a 33-acre parcel at Wagner Lane and Route 5 that would be developed by Centerplan Cos., currently working on the Hartford Yard Goats stadium project.
Maynard said Tuesday there was still support for the proposed site at Wagner Lane and Route 5, but the board of selectmen wanted to recommend two more parcels. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Plainville Seeking Bids To Raze Former School

PLAINVILLE — Companies interested in tearing down the former Linden Street School have until Feb. 19 to submit bids for the work that consultants recently said might cost more than the $2.6 million the town has set aside for the job.
The latest estimate from consultants is that it may cost as much as $3.3 million to demolish the century-old brick building, closed since 2009 and unwanted by local groups because of the projected $7 million cost of bringing the old building into compliance with building, safety and public access regulations.
Prospective bidders must tour the vacant building before submitting bids, according to the town's bid notice. Town Manager Robert Lee said the actual bids will clarify the likely cost of razing the former school.
The town council will discuss the project at its meeting on Monday.
Lee said Wednesday that a recent adjustment in the state grant for the project will allow the town to seek reimbursement for up to $3 million, so the town has some cushion on project finances. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

2015: A Good Year for Construction Employment

Forty-four states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs in 2015 while construction employment increased in 39 states and D.C. between November and December amid strong demand for construction in most states, according to analysis of Labor Department data released Jan. 26 by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that many of the states experiencing construction declines appear to be energy producing states.
“Construction employment expanded in most parts of the country last year as demand for new projects rebounded,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, chief executive officer of the association. “The question now is whether declining energy prices will impact construction employment in a larger part of the country this year.”
California added the most (59,300 jobs, 8.6 percent) construction jobs between December 2014 and December 2015. Other states adding a high number of new construction jobs for the past 12 months include Florida (28,500 jobs, 7.0 percent), New York (26,500 jobs, 7.6 percent) and Colorado (11,700 jobs, 7.9 percent). Hawaii added the highest percentage of new construction jobs during the past year (15.5 percent, 4,800 jobs), closely followed by Iowa (12.9 percent, 10,000 jobs), Arkansas (11.0 percent, 5,200 jobs) and Idaho (11.0 percent, 4,100 jobs). CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

standing their ground Power plant foes hope to persuade public to vote no on tax deal 

OXFORD — Opponents of a proposed 785-megawatt dual-fueled power plant in the town's industrial park say the project is not a done deal. On Thursday night, 38 of them gathered at Colonial Tavern here to discuss ways in which they can persuade the public before the town votes on Feb. 11 on whether to approve a $112 million payment in lieu of taxes over the next 22 years for the controversial CPV Towantic Energy Center. Opponents say that a no vote will send a symbolic message to Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures, the developers of the proposed plant, that residents do not want the facility that CPV says is under construction, will provide hundreds of jobs and will power hundreds of thousands of homes in the region. Opponents say that CPV has a track record of leaving communities where public outcry has been fierce. In Oxford, though, CPV says it is here to build the plant, which the Connecticut Siting Council approved last year. The council approved a modification of the existing approved site, which called for a 512-megawatt facility. It was proposed by General Electric in 1999 and approved, but was never built.
In 2012, CPV entered into an agreement with GE Energy Financial Services to modify and develop the project. The group said Thursday they wish they had a better answer to lingering questions about what a no vote ultimately means for how much taxes Oxford will get. Selectman Kathy Johnson, the minority Democrat on the three-member board and the only one opposed to the project, said a lot of people are "throwing their hands in the air and saying it's a done deal. "I've been hearing for 18 years it's a done deal," she said. Opponents say that if the plant is built, the town should be getting more tax money than is being offered, and that First Selectman George R. Temple, an ardent supporter of the plan, should negotiate a better deal for the town.
Temple and CPV say that a no vote simply means the town and the developer would revert to a tax stabilization plan approved in 1999 that calls for about $53 million in taxes for the town. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

January 28, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 28, 2016

Tomorrow's State Bond Commission Agenda

Bridge project in Old Greenwich intensifies

Night work and road closures have commenced on the Old Greenwich railroad bridge replacement project.
Nighttime road closings have begun on Tomac Avenue. While the overnight work has yet to start on Sound Beach Avenue, it is likely to begin in coming days.
According to Frank Pettise, the senior civil engineer on the project, the night work will run periodically from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., but not simultaneously on the two spans.
 Motorists are handling the new phase of the project in stride, though the impact of road closures will be greater once they begin on Sound Beach.
“No problems so far,” local resident Nina Sutton said Wednesday on her way to shop at Kings grocery store in Old Greenwich. “But it is kind of a mess.”
The president of the Old Greenwich Association, Meg Nolan van Reesema, said she has yet to hear about transportation problems in the community. “It’s been quiet. So far it hasn’t been invasive,” she said.
Van Reesema has been meeting with state officials and transportation authorities to gain as much information as possible, especially on the Sound Beach Avenue route, the main artery in the neighborhood. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

UConn to raise ticket prices to pay for new athletic fields

STORRS >> UConn is planning to charge fans more for basketball and football tickets to fund the construction of new soccer, baseball and softball stadiums. Scott Jordan, the school’s chief financial officer, told trustees Wednesday that a surcharge of between $1 and $5 would be added to all athletic tickets to help raise the estimated $46 million to build the new facilities.
The school says the UConn Foundation expects it can only raise about $25 million toward that goal.
Jordan says the rest would be bonded, and paid back through the revenue generated by the ticket surcharge, which he estimates would bring in about $1.5 million a year.
Details of the plan, which will need board approval, have not been worked out. Jordan says the surcharge would not be applied to student tickets.

Official Envisions 'Interim Casino' Within Six Months At Airport Sheraton
Bradley International Airport may hold the ace card in the competition to host Connecticut's third casino.Kevin Dillon, the executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said Wednesday that space at the Sheraton Hartford Hotel at the airport could be turned into an "interim casino" while a permanent gaming venue is built at Bradley.
"We do believe it could be up and running relatively quickly," Dillon said, after disclosing the option at a panel discussion in downtown Hartford on development along the I-91 corridor north of the city.
One estimate places the start-up time at about six months, Dillon said.
Windsor Locks and three other municipalities — East Windsor, East Hartford and Hartford — have proposed locations for a satellite casino that would be jointly run by Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. The push for the venue seeks to blunt competition — and a loss of revenue and jobs — posed by a $950 million casino now under construction by MGM Resorts International in nearby Springfield. The General Assembly will make the final decision on opening another casino.

January 27, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 27, 2016

Energy company seeks Danbury land for gas pipeline expansion

DANBURY — A Texas energy company needs to lease a small piece of city land to stage construction operations for its $970 million gas pipeline expansion project.
But before Spectra Energy receives Danbury’s approval to clear the property in a wooded neighborhood north of Mill Plain Road, city leaders want to gather public input.
The proposal is to clear the one-tenth acre owned by the city on Driftway Point Road and build a small road for construction machinery to the pipeline trench. Spectra would pay the city $5,000.
“In order to construct our pipeline in our easement in some places, we need temporary work space,” Martin McCarthy, the right-of-way supervisor for Spectra, said during a recent meeting with city leaders. “It could be used for be anything from trench soil to the temporary storage of equipment.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Water main raises concerns for New Milford turf field project

NEW MILFORD — A leaking valve has raised concerns about an underground water main’s potential effect on the soon-to-be installed turf fields and track at the high school.
Town Engineer Dan Stanton said a coupling valve in an unmarked irrigation system burst last month and alerted officials to potential issues of the underground water main, which was installed when the high school was under construction 15 years ago.
 While the valve was easily repaired, the leak raised concerns about a similar incident happening once the $4 million artificial turf project is completed.
“Once this project is completed, a leak could bubble to the surface on the state-of-the-art track causing it to melt and run,” Stanton told the Town Council Monday night. “We met with the project contractor and Aquarian Water and it was suggested to divert the water main along the sidewalk adjacent to the track. The estimated cost from the water company was $100,000.”
Stanton said the contractor, H I Stone, was not digging at the location of the coupling valve when it burst. He suggested it was the age of the valve and irrigation line that likely caused the failure. However, Stanton said there’s no way to assure it won’t happen again. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Lyman Hall fields, Calendar House among projects in line for state funding

More than $3.26 million worth of projects in the Meriden area are on the State Bond Commission’s agenda for its Friday meeting.
The meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave., Hartford.  
Local project requests range from repairing buildings and maintenance needs to financing studies.
Funding of $250,000 in Wall­ingford would be used to renovate athletic fields at Lyman Hall High School.
A $2.4 million project to renovate the athletic fields at the school and construct an athletic complex is nearing completion. The project includes an artificial turf field, a new lighting system and an eight-lane track. Work on the new track surface has been put off until June in order to allow spring teams to use the new complex. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Council will vote on a proposal to borrow $400,000 to acquire a parcel at 1 Terminal Way – part of a plan to redevelop the Shipping Street area into a modern boat launch. But, as aldermen learned last week, the total project cost could be closer to $4 million between cleanup and construction, though officials are confident up to half of that could be paid for through state aid. Addressing all of the cleanup issues would cost around $2 million, but the city could save itself up to $600,000 by using pavement from the launch as a cap for contaminated soils, said James Olsen, vice president of Middletown-based environmental firm Tighe & Bond. “Quite honestly, I think the state has been waiting to see what skin the city has in the game before committing, but there has been money allocated to the construction of other boat launches in the state,” Peter Davis, the city’s director of neighborhood and planning services, told the council. “I think there’s an opportunity we can show the state we have some level of investment in this project.” The remaining $1.5 million, which includes the bond, would come from design, engineering and construction costs. “This is a classic case of ‘if you build it, they will come,’” John Paul Mereen, an 18-year member of the city’s Harbor Management Commission and former alderman, told the council. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
WEST HARTFORD — In an 8-1 vote, the town council approved a request to add units to a previously approved apartment building at 243 Steele Road, despite four residents' protests.
The controversial 150-unit apartment complex was approved in August 2014, and comprises seven buildings, including a clubhouse with pool and patio area. The developer received approval Tuesday night to increase the number of units from 150 to 160 by dividing in half five of the existing two-bedroom units to make them one-bedroom units, priced at $1,450 per month. Councilman Leon Davidoff cast the dissenting vote, citing traffic concerns and an unease with adding more units to a proposal that had already drawn major criticism.
In total, this would create 20 one-bedroom units, developer Geoffrey Sager said. Changes to the exterior of the corresponding buildings are also proposed, but there will be no increase in the size or height of those buildings, and no change to the existing site plan, developers said Tuesday.
"In the short run, it will cost us more to build, and it will cost us more in taxes," Sager said. "But in the long run, it will make the project stronger." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

West Haven council approves tax deferral for developer on former Carroll Cut-Rate site

WEST HAVEN >> The City Council has unanimously approved a new, expanded tax deferral agreement for the developer building an $18 million, 67-unit apartment building over 15,000 square feet of retail on the former site of the Carroll Cut-Rate Furniture building on Route 1 in Allingtown.
The approval essentially updates a much smaller seven-year tax abatement agreement for what then was a much smaller, 30-unit, $8 million apartment building over 7,420 square feet of retail in the a converted former Carroll Cut-Rate building.
The developer, Starter sportswear founder David Beckerman’s Forest Manor LLC, ended up demolishing the former furniture store after the city’s building official declared it unsafe months after a subcontractor using heavy equipment damaged the building while removing a rear loading dock. Building Official Frank Gladwyn originally found the building to be structurally sound after the Feb. 9, 2015, mishap, but later changed his mind. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

MassDOT Invests $183.3 Million in I-91 Viaduct Project

The contract for the much-needed rehabilitation of the I-91 Viaduct Rehabilitation Project in Springfield, a $183.3 million Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) initiative, was awarded to the joint-venture (J-V) of J.F. White Contracting Co. and the Schiavone Construction Co. LLC last April, and the work is progressing well.
“MassDOT is undertaking the project to replace the existing deck of the bridge, which is in poor condition,” stated the fact sheet for the project. “[It] is the result of several years of planning and valuable input from a wide variety of stakeholders. The project has been designed to reduce the number of traffic stages and keep construction duration to a minimum. Once completed, [it] will reduce annual maintenance costs, increase safety and accessibility on this busy interstate and ensure long-term serviceability.”
The project covers a lot of ground from I-91 northbound and southbound, just south of State Street to the I-291 interchange ramps, and the work covers various on- and off-ramps between these limits and the I-291 ramp structures.
“The completed bridge cross-section will be similar to the existing bridge width, with a wider left shoulder, three travel lanes and a wider right shoulder,” stated the fact sheet. “During construction, there will be one travel lane north of the I-291 ramps, while two lanes will be maintained on the viaduct in each direction, with occasional exceptions possible. In addition to the bridge and highway improvements within the limits of the viaduct, MassDOT is proposing bridge drainage system enhancements that will improve water quality in the Connecticut River. Other improvements will include new lighting on the viaduct, the upper levels of the north and south garage, and the Columbus Avenue railroad underpass.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE



January 26, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 26, 2016

Roads and Bridges Need $1 Trillion. It Is Time to Rebuild the US

Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. The Interstate 75 bridge collapse in Cincinnati on Monday is only the latest example. Every day, motorists across the United States drive over bridges that are in disrepair and on roads with unforgiving potholes. They take railroad and subway trains that arrive late and are overcrowded. They see airports bursting at the seams. They worry that a local levee could fail in a storm.
For many years we have underfunded the maintenance of our nation’s physical infrastructure. That has to change. It is time to rebuild America. I will soon be introducing legislation for a $1 trillion investment, over five years, to modernize our country’s physical infrastructure. This bill will not just rebuild our country but it will create and maintain 13 million good-paying jobs that our economy desperately needs.
For most of our history, the United States proudly led the world in building innovative infrastructure, from a network of canals, to the transcontinental railroad, to the interstate highway system. We launched an ambitious rural electrification program, massive flood control projects and more.
These innovations grew our economy, gave our businesses a competitive advantage, provided our workers a decent standard of living and were the envy of the world. Sadly, that is no longer the case. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2015 ranks the U.S.’s overall infrastructure at 12th in the world. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Opponents Urge Bloomfield Town Council To Reverse Decision On Water Bottling Plant

LOOMFIELD — About 100 protesters who turned out for a second time this month in Bloomfield to urge the town council to reverse course on granting a tax abatement to a planned water bottling facility were disappointed by the response.
Mayor Joan Gamble, reading from an opinion crafted by Town Attorney Marc Needelman on Monday, told the opponents of the plant that the town's signed tax abatement agreement with California-based Niagara Bottling company is legally binding.
Needelman also told the council in his written opinion that any efforts to vote again on the proposal, which the council approved unanimously in December, would be out of order because a vote to reconsider would have needed to have been taken the same day as the original vote.
Gamble's assertion that the town was bound by a legal document did not deter the crowd from voicing their reasons for not wanting the plant in town. About two dozen of them spoke, sang, promised legal action and offered frequent flyer miles if the town council would reconsider its decision. "If the council goes ahead without pausing, we are all losers," resident Guthrie Sayen said.
Niagara plans to build a 443,000-square-foot bottling facility on Woodland Avenue. The $73-million plant will open with one bottling line capable of using up to 450,000 gallons of water a day. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

State added 22,600 jobs in 2015 

Connecticut added 22,600 new jobs to the labor market last year marking the third greatest gain since 1998 when employers added 32,900 positions. Though fewer jobs were created in 2015 than 2014 when 25,100 hit the market, a report issued by the state Department of Labor on Monday shows continued private sector growth for the sixth straight year. A full analysis of the labor market will be available in March. Preliminary figures show nonfarm jobs grew at an average rate of 1,883 each month in 2015. The public sector lost 400 jobs in the same period. "It's certainly not a spectacular report, but it is a positive report," said Peter M. Gioia, vice president and economist of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. According to the report, Connecticut has recovered 106,700 positions, or 89.7 percent, of the 119,000 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs lost during the March 2008 to February 2011 employment recession. The largest loss came in 2009 when 66,300 jobs left the market. Since November, the state's preliminary nonfarm employment increased by 300 jobs to 1,700,700 positions, seasonally adjusted, the Labor Situation report stated. November's preliminary increase of 5,100 grew by 700 jobs, the agency's monthly report stated. The unemployment rate — which counts those who are actively seeking work in the month— increased to 5.2 percent in December from 5.1 percent, marking the first increase since February 2015 when it was 6.4 percent, the Labor Department report stated. Despite the higher unemployment rate, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the latest figures indicate the state economy is continuing to improve.
"I don't have a lot to say other than it is steady as it goes," Malloy said. "We continue to add jobs. "
In addition to reporting 300 jobs added in December, the labor department revised the jobs gains for November upward from 5,100 to 5,800. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

January 25, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 25, 2016

New Southington housing developments hope to attract retirees

SOUTHINGTON — Proposed and approved developments could add hundreds of condominium and rental units to the town’s housing stock, many aimed at attracting retirees to new luxury homes.
Five projects, four of which have been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission, would add nearly 450 condos and apartments.
Greenway Commons is the largest development and has been the longest in the works. In 2007, the commission approved 263 condos and a retail component for the former Ideal Forging property. The project has floundered, but recently finished factory demolition.
Two other downtown projects include a 34-unit complex on Liberty Street that will have 31 age-restricted apartments and a Forgione Drive apartment complex that will have 64 units. Of those, 41 will be age-restricted apartments and the remainder will be two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom townhomes selling for around $190,000.
Local developer Mat Florian received approval to build a three-building, 22-unit condominium complex on the site of the former Board of Education property on Beecher Street.
Plans for a Laning Street development haven’t been submitted to the town, but adjacent property owners have been informed of the proposed 60-unit, 55-and-older community at a meeting with developers. According to those plans, the condos will be between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. They’ll cost between $340,000 and $350,000 CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
MANCHESTER — A development company that is set to buy a subsidized housing complex plans an $11.5 million building and renovation project, including construction of a new community center.
The planning and zoning commission recently approved an application for improvements at Squire Village, a 374-unit complex off Spencer Street. Plans include construction of a 6,988-square-foot community building, addition of five apartments and modification of 10 existing apartments into handicapped-accessible units. Construction is to start in the spring and be completed by the winter of 2016-17.
The applicant, Rose Affordable Housing Preservation Fund Squire Preservation, is part of Jonathan Rose Cos., described on its website (www.rosecompanies.com) as "a mission-based, green real estate policy, development, project management and investment firm." The company is set to close on the purchase of the complex in February.
The community building is to be on what is now open land at the southeastern corner of Channing Drive. Floor plans show the building is to include a large common area, an exercise room, a library and meeting and study rooms. Decisions about the location and design of the building were driven in large part by Squire Village's demographics, which show 379, or 44 percent of current residents, are 18 or younger, according to the applicant. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Energy Park worth $50M to Beacon Falls 

BEACON FALLS — The town will receive $49.7 million over the next 23 years if a proposed Beacon Falls Energy Park is built. The Board of Selectmen has unanimously approved a tax stabilization plan that gives the town payment in lieu of taxes, which will be paid in 45 semiannual installments that will increase gradually over time. "It's very exciting," First Selectman Christopher J. Bielik said. "There was a tremendous amount of group work that went into this by a lot of people to make sure we got the best deal for the town and to help the developers with their proposal."
That proposal is part of a competitive bid process that Beacon Falls Energy Park LLC has to enter into to convince the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts that their project, as opposed to others that could be proposed, best helps to meet regional clean energy goals. The town wanted to have an agreement that would benefit taxpayers and also give the company the best chance at winning the bid, Bielik said. The proposed 63.3-megawatt fuel cell project, if constructed, would be the largest fuel cell facility of its kind in the world, and the largest Class I renewable energy facility in Connecticut, according to the company. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection standards considers fuel cells Class I renewable energy sources, meaning they are among the cleanest energy alternatives on the market. The project will provide energy to approximately 60,000 Connecticut residents and businesses and "will be a robust addition to Connecticut's renewable energy portfolio," said William Corvo, the company's manager.
On top of the local payments, the project will pay income and sales taxes to the state. "The project will also sustain Connecticut manufacturing and construction jobs and generate several millions of dollars in tax revenue for the state of Connecticut at a time when such economic benefits are needed in the state," Corvo stated in a news release. If constructed, it would be built between 2016 and 2019 on a former sand and gravel mine on Lopus Road. It is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2019. Torrington-based O&G Industries Inc. is the parent company of Beacon Falls Energy Park LLC and the contractor for the project. The fuel cells will be manufactured by FuelCell Energy Inc., a Danbury company that has a manufacturing facility in Torrington.


January 22, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 22, 2016

Installation of 208-foot Wallingford linear trail bridge begins

WALLINGFORD — For over 10 years, the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee worked to design a bridge to cross the river and connect Wallingford Center to Yalesville. On Thursday afternoon, committee members stood with smiles as they watched the installation of the 208-foot bridge.
The bridge was delivered from Alexandria, Minnesota, and arrived in Wallingford on Thursday morning. By mid-afternoon, half of the bridge was installed. 
Using an access point created off Warehouse Point Road, committee members were able to stand by the abutment closest to Route 15 and watch as contractors worked to put each section in place.
“It’s like a dream,” said Tim Gallogly, a member of the committee for 11 years.
Contractors began working on the site in June 2015. The installation of the bridge is part of Phase 3 of the Linear Trail.
It is expected to cost $2.4 million. State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, who is also the co-chairwoman of the committee, said Phase 3 could be completed in the spring because the recent weather allowed contractors to work into the winter season.
“We are here to welcome the bridge, which is going to allow this trail to connect to Yalesville from Wallingford Center and for the first time connect the two parts of Wallingford without cars,” Mushinsky said. “So you will be able to get back and forth on your bicycle or on foot.”
Committee members waited years for construction while the town worked to secure local, state and federal funding, in addition to state and local permits.
“It’s been a long journey,” said Cathryn Granucci, co-chairwoman of the committee. “... Who benefits? All the people and all the residents who use the trail on an almost daily basis.”
After the obstacles and hurdles the committee has had to overcome, seeing the bridge set in place was an memorable experience. For Mushinsky and Granucci, the two said they weren’t going to miss it.
“We were both home resting for this,” Mushinsky said, adding the two co-chairs were sick. “Both Cathy and I wouldn’t miss this. We would have been out here on a stretcher.”
Once the bridge is set, four benches and a kiosk will be installed. The committee has started working on Phase 4 of the expansion, which will consist of connecting the Linear Trail from Hall Avenue to North Haven. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
WEST HARTFORD — A multimillion dollar financing package that will assist in the purchase and renovations of three prominent buildings on LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center closed Thursday.
The buildings were purchased in December by investment group LaSalle Road Partners, LLC. LaSalle Road Partners is composed of Corridor Ventures, Rockport Investments and Tecca Ventures.
 A First Niagara Financial Group spokesperson said the group did not wish to disclose the specific amount of the financing package.
LaSalle Road Partners now owns 52-84 LaSalle Road, a building that stretches from DeRobertis Jewelers to Restaurant Bricco, and includes the women's clothing store BK&Co. and Matthew Phillips Salon.
In addition, the company has acquired 977 Farmington Ave., occupied by Grant's Restaurant and Cookshop Plus, and 989-991 Farmington Ave., where Music & Arts is located.
"We look forward to working with existing and prospective tenants in these buildings to enhance the physical characteristics of the space and to develop a diverse mix of tenants and businesses," Dan Joseph, president of Corridor Ventures, said in a statement Thursday. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Glastonbury Town Manager Proposes $5.3 Million In Capital Projects

GLASTONBURY — Town Manager Richard J. Johnson has proposed $5.3 million in capital improvement projects, including repairs to bridges, a study to find a replacement for the Grange pool and replacing the sythetic turf field at Glastonbury High School.
Members of the town council, the boards of education and finance and other officials met Thursday for the annual capital improvement program workshop. Johnson outlined 29 projects ranging from $2.4 million for the replacement of the Eastern Boulevard bridge over Salmon Brook and design work for the replacement of the Fisher Hill Road bridge over Roaring Brook to $50,000 for ADA compliance in the kitchen at Glastonbury High School.
The proposal, which will become part of the town budget, goes next to the town council for review. Johnson said "a vast majority of the projects are about taking care of what the town owns now and ongoing initiatives."
Taking care of school facilities is a large portion of the proposed funding, including $150,000 of the $550,000 needed to replace the football field turf, which is heavily used by a variety of teams. Funding would also include $185,000 to replace carpeting at elementary schools and $100,000 to replace the gymnasium floor at Hopewell Elementary School. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

WETHERSFIELD — The planning and zoning commission gave the green light Wednesday for a 20-lot subdivision off Back Lane, the town's largest housing development in at least 15 years."We're very excited to get started," developer Frank Dibacco said after the unanimous vote. "It's been a long time coming."
Dibacco, owner of CCC Construction, said he hopes to begin work next month. The subdivision will be built in three phases, with the first batch of six homes expected to done by fall, he said.
Dibacco said it would take three years to build all 20 homes, which will likely sell for $650,000 to $800,000.
Dibacco said that many homeowners want to do their own landscaping and often tear out trees planted by the developer. He asked to be allowed to build a sidewalk only on the west side of the main road because walkways on the steet's east side and in the two cul-de-sacs would be short.
Dibacco also asked for relief from a commission rule limiting the amount of wetlands in the required open space to 50 percent. Jim Dutton, an engineer hired by Dibacco, said that a waiver made sense because the open space his client will provide borders the 1860 Reservoir and will help protect it. Dutton said 88 percent of the project's open space would be wetlands. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Connecticut getting $54 million in ‘disaster resilience’ money

Bridgeport and the new administration of Mayor Joe Ganim appear to be the biggest beneficiaries of $54.2 million in federal funds awarded Thursday to Connecticut to help Fairfield and New Haven counties better prepare for coastal flooding and climate change.
Ganim, who was at the White House in connection with a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was pulled aside and told the city was receiving about $38 million for flood control in the city's south end, said his spokesman, Av Harris. Related link CT mayors network, seek money and meet Obamas
The grant was awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Rockefeller Foundation as part of the $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition for states and communities affected by major disasters between 2011 and 2013. Ganim's predecessor, Bill Finch, was a strong backer of the application.“Climate change is real and we must think more seriously about how to plan for it,” said Juli├ín Castro, the HUD secretary who recently visited Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport.
Connecticut's entry on behalf of the state was made by the Connecticut Institute for Resilience & Climate Adaptation, a joint center run by UConn and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It had asked for nearly $115 million for resiliency work in Bridgeport and New Haven and for resiliency planning in the Connecticut coastal counties most damaged by Storm Sandy.
HUD only mentioned Bridgeport in its announcement, but the state also is receiving planning funds for floodplain design guidelines and further work on the "Connecticut Connections Coastal Resilience Plan" in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
The HUD announcement upstaged plans for a press conference Friday at noon by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and the U.S. representative whose districts include Bridgeport and New Haven, Jim Himes of the 4th District and Rosa L. DeLauro of the 3rd District. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
From cutting-edge building technologies to innovative construction methods and better decision-making systems, projects are getting smarter. Given the rapid development of emerging construction opportunities, owners should demand faster projects, lower costs and better buildings. In this guide, we've compiled 10 trends that will shape and improve construction projects in 2016 and beyond.
1. Detailed 3D BIM Modeling
Architectural models have changed. Instead of 2D drawings, 3D computer designs using Building Information Modeling (BIM) are becoming the standard, providing owners better visualizations. And today, these are no longer limited to architectural models, but also models of specific building systems. Subcontractors' design consultants use BIM to model structural engineering, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, ductwork, steel work and more. Combined with clash detection programs, designers can ensure no systems interfere with each other, preventing field coordination problems before they arise on the job site.
2. Cost and schedule modeling with 5D Macro-BIM
More and more design firms are adopting 5D Macro BIM at the earliest stages of design. These models show owners how early design concepts affect cost, schedule and constructability, allowing them to evaluate large-scale options and make informed decisions. These pre-construction designs used to be little more than napkin sketches, now they'll be far more scientific and complete as the industry adopts 5D Macro BIM technology.
3. Pre-fabrication
Owners are increasingly realizing value as construction firms pre-fabricate building elements off-site. Instead of sequentially constructing facilities, contractors are starting to deliver multiple project elements at the same time to streamline schedules. While subcontractors pre-fabricate walls off-site, a contractor pours the foundation. With some of the most technical work performed off-site, in a more controlled environment, safety is improved too. Combining pre-fabrication with 3D BIM, project teams avoid potential conflicts regarding the use of building space. And owners see a safer, faster, less expensive project. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE


January 21, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 21, 2016

Consultant to have second look at Newington Town Hall needs

NEWINGTON — The Town Council approved hiring a Hamden-based building consultant for $30,000 this week, to take a second look at the structural condition and needs of Town Hall.
After completing the study Diversified Technology Consultants will request an additional $16,000 for construction cost estimates, to include a top-to-bottom building rehaul as well as a more simple renovation.
Town Facilities Manager David Langdon told the council Tuesday that the building’s poor condition is making his job and those of fellow town employees more difficult. An emergency sewer repair briefly closed Town Hall for several days in October, he pointed out, and that’s just one example of the structure’s failing systems.
“I’ve inherited a mess,” Langdon said. “Some of the original mechanical units date back to 1950. Hiring DTC to be our second set of eyes can do a world of good,” he said. “They are the right fit for what we need to accomplish to get this project going.”
Architect Kaestle Boos and contractor Downes Construction conducted structural analyses last year and devised several different plans for renovating and reconstructing the building. These proposals were put forth by the building committee charged with planning the long-awaited project, but deemed too costly by the public. The last $34.5 million plan failed to gain residents’ approval in a public hearing in October, leading elected officials to put the project on hold as they reconsidered their options.
Mayor Roy Zartarian suggested hiring an outside firm to conduct another study, after which the council could give the committee direction on how to proceed.
“We’ve got to decide which direction we’re going to go in based on the engineers’ report,” he said this week.
Langdon ensured officials that DTC was the right fit for Newington. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Delivery of 208-foot Wallingford linear trail bridge expected Thursday

WALLINGFORD — Four sections of a 208-foot bridge crossing the Quinnipiac River are scheduled to be delivered Thursday and will be installed as part of Phase 3 of the Linear Trail expansion.
The bridge was made in Alexandria, Minnesota, according to Democratic State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, who also serves on the Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Advisory Committee. On Jan. 17, four trucks left Minnesota to deliver the segments to Wallingford, according to Kevin Nursick, spokesman with the state Department of Transportation.
Contractors began working on the site in June 2015. Phase 3 of the project, which expands the trail into Yalesville, is expected to cost $2.4 million and is slated to be completed in July 2016.
The bridge sections are scheduled to arrive on site between 7 and 10 a.m. During this time, the first section of the bridge will be installed on the first abutment, which is closest to Route 15. From 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., the crane will move north to abutment 2 on Fireworks Island.
From 12:30 to 1 p.m., visitors will be allowed to access abutment 1 from Warehouse Point Road. At the same time, the second, third and fourth sections of the bridge will be installed.
Since the bridge is being delivered in four sections — each segment will be 52 feet long — Town Engineer Rob Baltramaitis said he does not expect the delivery to impact traffic. He added roads will not be closed.
“Other than a big day with construction of Phase 3, certainly it’s a milestone day, but it’s nothing unique about the delivery process of the bridge,” Baltramaitis said.
Mushinsky said she and the committee have been anxiously awaiting the bridge delivery. They were told the bridge could not be delivered until after the new year to ensure the roads were open for holiday traffic. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Hartford mayor Luke Bronin announced Wednesday morning that the city has reached a settlement with the developer of Dunkin' Donuts stadium and its Double A tenant baseball team, the Hartford Yard Goats. It sets a May 17 completion date of the stadium, with the first pitch likely being thrown as early as May 31.
The settlement calls for the Yard Goats to put up $2 million and for the developer, DoNo Hartford LLC, to put up $2.3 million in the form of higher payments in lieu of taxes to the city for its proposed mixed-used development downtown. DoNo Hartford will also pay approximately $225,000 per year in additional taxes on the DoNo development for the life of any bonds issued by the city or the Hartford Stadium Authority.
Hartford taxpayers initially will have to shoulder $5.5 million in additional debt to fund about $10.4 million in stadium cost overruns. However, additional tax payments from DoNo will offset that amount to $3.5 million leaving the city on the hook for about a third of the funding gap.
The stadium's original pricetag was $56 million, but the project developer, Middletown-based Centerplan Cos., revealed in December that the project was about $10 million over budget.
"Nobody is standing here waving a 'Mission Accomplished' banner," Bronin said, adding there is still more work to do. "This represents our best effort … to protect the long-term interests of city taxpayers."
Centerplan, in a statement, praised Bronin's leadership. It said his "swift action to convene key stakeholders" protected the stadium and the interest of taxpayers. Company officials said it also sets a path for the progress of future projects.

WEST HARTFORD — Even though it will affect his street, resident John Dolan agreed that Eversource Energy's plan to build a 3.8-mile underground transmission line is necessary."We don't really have a choice," Dolan said at an open house Wednesday night to discuss the plan. "For reliable electricity, this needs to be done."
Eversource hosted the two-hour open house Wednesday to explain the project to residents in the three towns affected. Residents were able to talk with Eversource officials at four interactive kiosks, as well as see maps of the proposed routes and the project's municipal filings.
The company plans to build the transmission line through Newington, West Hartford and Hartford, with the majority in West Hartford. The line will run between the Newington substation and the southwest Hartford substation, near New Park Avenue.
The 115-kilovolt line aims to increase power reliability and "build redundancy" into Eversource's system, adding another path for the electric current to flow, Eversource spokesman Frank Poirot said. All improvements will be made underneath the street or underground, with nothing visible aboveground except for manhole covers, he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Building of senior housing begins in Seymour 

SEYMOUR — Construction started Monday on a downtown senior housing complex.
The project to build 26 apartments in a five-story building at 38 Columbus St. is funded through a $4.7 million Competitive Housing Assistance for Multifamily Properties grant from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. The building will be above an existing parking lot next to the senior apartments in the former Eckhardt Furniture Building at 16 Bank St., according to Joseph Migani, senior architect at O'Riordan Migani Architects. He built those 12 senior units above four retail locations as the first phase of the project in 2008.
The new Columbus Street building will include a community room for seniors to gather and socialize, Migani said. Under the zoning ordinance, the project should have had one parking space per unit, but the commission waved that requirement and allowed the proposal to include four spaces on public parking lots within 300 feet of the site. Migani said a predevelopment loan of $250,000 paid for a survey, test borings, marketing analysis, permit drawings and specifications, allowing him to apply for the CHAMP grant. Although he didn't get any money from the federal homeland bank board as he had originally hoped, Migani said CHAMP made up the difference when it awarded the grant in April 2014. "The wheels of progress grind slowly," Migani said. He said he couldn't have gotten funding from market rate bank financing because the below market rents wouldn't pay for it.
With the state funding, the state will dictate rents on the project for 30 years. The maximum rent for a one-bedroom apartment, set by the department of Housing and Urban Development, is currently about $813 for a single person, Migani said. "It's not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it's a good public policy initiative," Migani said. "We're in this for generations, managing this state funded project." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Oxford voters get another chance to speak out on power plant tax deal

OXFORD — Hundreds of residents who voted down a tax stabilization plan for the CPV Towantic Energy center at a town meeting in September will have another say on the proposal next month.
This time, all registered voters can make their voices heard at a daylong referendum on Feb. 8 at Quaker Farms School. "I think the results are going to be different," First Selectman George R. Temple said. On Sept. 3, more than 500 people packed the auditorium at Oxford High School and voted 331-192 against approving the plan during the contentious meeting. Many of those who voted 'no' did so because they believed it would send a strong signal to CPV that taxpayers didn't want the company's proposed 785 megawatt power plant, at any cost. Temple says that is the wrong way to look at the tax proposal. "The opponents thought they would just go away," Temple said. "They are not going away." Following the meeting, Temple said Oxford would have to revert to a tax plan approved in 1999 when a previous version of the power plant was proposed. That plan called for Oxford to receive $52.8 million. However, Temple renegotiated with the company and the two sides made minor changes to the proposal, which still calls for Oxford to receive $112 million payment in lieu of taxes. "We wanted the whole town to have a say, not just a room full of people, which was packed by the opponents, to have a say," he said.
CPV plans to pay Oxford $7 million in up front costs before construction and bring $5.3 million to the grand list annually, according to documents on the town's website.
CPV's $1 billion project has been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Oxford resident Herman Schuler, the town's former economic development director, says the money will "secure Oxford's financial future, support Oxford's long-standing development strategy, fund future tax reductions and put money in our pocket."
In a letter he wrote that was published in this past Sunday Republican, Schuler states that a no vote will not stop the power plant from being built, which the company also says is true.
"Simply put, a 'yes' vote adds $112.3 million to town revenues," he states. "A 'no' vote leaves things as they are, providing only $56.5 million to finance tax reductions and worthy new projects, like the new town library and proposed elementary school."


January 20, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 20, 2016

I-95 plan: $11 billion ‘boondoggle’ or solution?

HARTFORD — A consumer group is calling Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $11 billion plan to widen Interstate 95 to ease congestion a “boondoggle” that will waste taxpayer money.
The Connecticut Public Interest Research Group on Tuesday said money earmarked to widen I-95 would be better spent improving mass transportation, enhancing the Metro-North commuter railroad so it can handle more passengers and installing congestion tolling.
“Road widening does not address congestion,” said Evan Preston, ConnPIRG’s state director. “As we make choices, investing in I-95 is the least effective way to increase our transportation system.”
But Joe Cutrufo, policy director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, cited national studies which show widening projects actually increase congestion.
“Studies have shown when you widen a highway, you invite more traffic onto it,” Cutrufo said. “Connecticut could be a great place to get around via transit and better service on Metro-North.”
Judd Everhart, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, acknowledged wider highways attract more cars. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it,” he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Newtown apartments set for spring construction

NEWTOWN — Efforts to develop the Hawleyville section of town will start in earnest this year when construction crews begin a new 180-unit apartment complex near Exit 9 that officials hope will spur additional development in the area.
While officials have hoped for years to see new development in the Hawleyville section that runs near Interstate 84, a lack of public services often hampered large-scale residential and commercial construction projects. A sewer project approved last year that could be installed as early as this spring, however, has paved the way for new projects.
Land use officials recently approved of a new apartment complex that will include workforce housing on an 18-acre parcel off Hawleyville Road. The deal will also include a diner with frontage on the roadway as well as a new building for the Grace Family Church.
“The Hawleyville area has really been primed for something to happen for the past eight years,” said Paul Scalzo, the president of Scalzo Real Estate Group, who has been working with the developer on the project. “But now things are really starting to come together.”
Crews will begin construction of the new housing this spring. The complex will include about 18 three-bedroom apartments, 54 two-bedroom apartments and more than 100 one-bedroom units. Rents for the apartments start at around $1,400 per month.
Town Planner George Benson said he’s excited about the project and its potential to attract future development dollars to the Hawleyville neighborhood. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

DOT sets hearings on Merritt Parkway projects in Westport

Plans to resurface stretches of the Merritt Parkway, as well as for safety and bridge upgrades, in Westport and Fairfield will be the topic of public hearings in both communities in coming weeks.
The state Department of Transportation is planning two projects, both anticipated to start in the spring of 2017, that will affect the highway’s Westport-Fairfield corridor.
The parkway will be resurfaced in both directions from Newtown Turnpike in Westport to approximately 130-feet south of Congress Street in Fairfield, a total length of 4.95 miles. The project, which includes work to improve safety and bridges along the route, will link to a similar project already completed on an easterly stretch of highway in Fairfield and Trumbull.
The work — designated Project 158-0211 by the DOT — is expected to cost approximately $60 million, with 80 percent funded by the federal government and 20 percent from the state.
The other project involves rehabilitation of the parkway bridge crossing the Saugatuck River in Westport. That has been designated DOT Project 158-0207 and is estimated to cost $12 million, financed entirely by the state.
The DOT’s public meetings on the projects are planned:
Jan. 27, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium, 110 Myrtle Ave. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Good news: Berlin High School renovation under budget, on time

BERLIN — The renovation of Berlin High School is creeping closer to completion.
Tom Smith, of the Gilbane Building Co., who is the renovation’s project manager, said the building is on track to be completed by the end the summer, with the only exception being the final touches put on the auditorium.
This, however, is just half of the good news, he said in a recent update to town officials.
“As of right now we are still tracking under budget,” Smith said, adding that there is over $1 million in contingency and $800,000 in uncommitted allowances remaining as the renovation heads into the home stretch. He doesn’t expect many changes, if any, to happen from here on out.
“We think we’ve hit most of our changes or have most of them accounted for,” Smith said. “So we’re feeling pretty good right now.”
At its completion, the renovation project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $84 million. That includes the finished construction of a new six-classroom technology building and complete renovation of the existing school. A $69.95 million budget was approved by the town’s voters at referendum in 2011. The town was able to acquire state funds to pay for the run over.
Town Councilor Rachel Rochette, a democrat, who has a daughter who attends the high school, was pleased to hear Smith’s good news. She said there was a lot of talk from some of the council, as well as many throughout town, that the project would not be completed on budget.
“There’s been a lot of talk in town that we were not going to be able to do that,” she said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

DOT conducting transportation surveys

As part of the "Let's Go CT!" plan, the governor's 30-year transportation initiative, the state Department of Transportation has announced a series of transportation surveys to collect data for several transportation studies.
According to a DOT statement, the studies include surveys to solicit input from residents, students and business professionals about the existing transit system, potential service improvements, commuting on Interstate 84 and demographic information. Results from the surveys will be used to assist planners and engineers in improving Connecticut's existing and future transportation systems as part of the Let's Go CT! plan.
Surveys being conducted in the first quarter of 2016 include:
Comprehensive Hartford Transit Study: Jan. 19-21, 2016, www.hartfordtransitstudy.com. Surveys will be conducted onboard buses, online and at bus stops.
CT Statewide Transportation Study: March – April 2016, www.cttransportationstudy.org. Household surveys will be conducted online and by phone to update the statewide travel model
  1. I-84 Viaduct Reconstruction Project: March – April 2016, www.i84hartford.com Interstate 84 Stated Preference Survey: commuter surveys online and at open houses
  2. Hartford Transit Onboard & At Stop Survey: to be conducted on buses and at bus stops
  3. Hartford Transit Travel Pattern Survey: Passenger "on and off" data to be collected on selected bus routes. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
Yale gets $50M gift to upgrade graduate hall, enhance teaching of humanities

NEW HAVEN >> An anonymous donation of $50 million will go a long way toward renovating the 1930s-era Hall of Graduate Studies on York Street and enhance the teaching of humanities at Yale, the university announced Tuesday. The gift comes on the heels of a major donation from the chairwoman of PepsiCo Inc. to endow the deanship of the Yale School of Management.
“Yale has so many outstanding departments and programs in the humanities, and bringing a core group of them into one building at the heart of campus will make them even stronger,” said President Peter Salovey in a statement.
“I am so grateful that our donors had the foresight not only to support a world-class facility, but also to supply permanent funding for the innovative teaching, research and collaboration that will happen within it. The impact of their contribution will be transformative and enduring.” Professor Amy Hungerford, director of the Division of Humanities for the faculty of arts and sciences, is chairwoman of a planning committee for how best to use the graduate hall. She said the $50 million gift, in addition to renovating the building, “offers us a chance to foster collaboration between departments.”  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Transportation advocates say widening I-95 won’t ease congestion

A major consumer advocacy group and a key legislator on transportation financing  both argued Tuesday against one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's largest transportation initiatives: the widening of Interstate 95.
And while the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group praised Malloy for making transportation investment a priority, its director also said the widening proposal deserved its place on a national list of “highway boondoggles” compiled by U.S.PIRG, a federation of state public interest research groups.
Widening I-95, particularly in traffic-heavy Fairfield County, would not alleviate congestion in Connecticut’s southwest corner, ConnPIRG State Director Evan Preston said during a mid-morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building. But with an estimated price tag of $11.2 billion, it would draw resources from more crucial priorities, including: bridge repair, general rail improvements and expansion of mass transit.
"As we face limited resources, … we know that investing in I-95 is one of the least effective ways to benefit our transportation system,” Preston said.
Tom Maziarz, director of the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Policy and Planning, told the Connecticut Post last year that “you can’t build your way out of transportation.”
And Joseph Cutrufo, who is spokesman for the Manhattan-based Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and Preston, argued that widening I-95 might provide relief — but only in the very short term.
"Study after study after study has shown when you widen a highway, you invite more traffic onto the roadway,” Cutrufo said.
Widening I-95 also means a host of logistical problems, argued State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, who co-chairs the legislature’s transportation bonding subcommittee. Besides the environmental issues and the expense of publicly taking private property related to widening the highway, the road work would worsen traffic congestion that already is severe, he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Waterbury gives 4 lots for housing project

WATERBURY — The city is handing four vacant South End properties to a nonprofit planning agency to build a five-story, 44-unit, apartment building for low- and moderate-income tenants.
Nancy MacMillan, executive director of Loyola Development Corp., told the board Tuesday that the project's location and design will target — though not be restricted to — senior residents of the South End. The four donated parcels are vacant land between West Liberty, Jewelry and South Main streets — about a block away from Home Depot. The apartments would be a mix of studio and one-bedroom units. The are no structures on the 15 West Liberty, 602 South Main, 594 South Main and 18 Jewelry St. parcels, although some of this space is currently used as a parking lot. A purchase agreement endorsed by the aldermen Tuesday night will transfer the properties for $1 apiece. The planned development would also include a 1,700-square-foot office for the Hispanic Coalition of Greater Waterbury. MacMillan said it would take up to five years to perform all necessary environmental tests, draft plans, secure funding and complete construction. Loyola estimates the project's expense at $13.8 million. MacMillan said the group intends to partner this development with an effort to secure funding to spruce up the street and storefronts in the immediate area. MacMillan highlighted her group's past success finishing a 33-unit affordable housing development at 619 South Main St. last spring. Two aldermen felt compelled to acknowledge connections to the project, but still joined other members in unanimously approving the land transfer. Aldermen Victor Lopez is president of the Hispanic Coalition. Aldermen Sandra Martinez-McCarthy said her husband is a member of Loyola. Lopez said he is "delighted, excited and happy" to be able to collaborate with Loyola, which has taken a leading role in redevelopment efforts.

January 19, 2016

CT Construction Digest Januery 19, 2016

Highway tolls and gas tax plan draws criticism

HARTFORD - A plan to slap tolls on state highways and increase gas taxes and other fees is hitting a wall of opposition and raising doubts about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $100 billion vision to upgrade Connecticut’s transportation system.
“They want a gas tax hike, a sales tax hike and higher fees,” said State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton and ranking member on the General Assembly’s transportation committee.
“And they want tolls in Connecticut. How predictable,” said Boucher, an avowed opponent of tolls.
Malloy’s transportation funding panel last week released a long awaited report on how to fund the governor’s bold, 30-year transportation plan over the next 15 years. The report relies heavily on new fees, including raising $8 billion through electronic congestion tolls on I-95 between Greenwich to Stonington, and I-84 from New Haven to Danbury. Along with additional borrowing, the panel proposed raising the gas tax by 14 cents over seven years, to 39 cents a gallon, increasing motor vehicle fees, rail and bus fares and boosting the sales tax byone-half percent over 15 years.
The billions in revenue raised would be used to widen I-95 between Greenwich and New Haven, build a new Hartford viaduct, increase volume on Metro-North and create tens of thousands of construction jobs. Toll rates would vary during the day, with higher fees during rush hour. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Work at West Haven Veterans Memorial Field to start soon after years of delay

WEST HAVEN >> After years of delay, the city appears ready to move forward on a project to build dedicated bathrooms and locker rooms at Veterans Memorial Field, officials confirmed Monday.
Mayor Ed O’Brien said he hopes to see work begin around the end of February or the beginning of March following a recommendation by the West Haven Building Oversight Committee last week to award contracts to the low bidders for both construction and site work.
“We are glad and excited to get this thing started — and under budget,” O’Brien said.
A meeting to discuss scheduling and the scope of the project with the two contractors, Panza Construction Co. of West Haven, which will receive a $382,000 construction contract, and Complete Construction Co. of Ansonia, which will receive a $38,000 contract for site work, will take place Thursday, said O’Brien and Director of Finance Kevin McNabola. 
“It’s definitely moving forward,” said McNabola. O’Brien and McNabola said they expect the project to be done in advance of the August start of practice for the West Haven Seahawks/Ray Tellier Youth Football League. The first time the project went out to bid, the low bid came back $126,000 over budget.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
NAUGATUCK — The longer Naugatuck waits, the more expensive it will be to repair the Whittemore Bridge on Maple Street. At least, that is what history has proven. The project, once estimated to cost about $4 million, is now double that at about $8 million, said Public Works Director Jim Stewart. If there is a silver lining in the ongoing bridge saga, it's that the borough plans to finally begin construction in the spring after about 10 years of delays. Last month, officials put out a request for bid proposals from developers interested in the job. A prebid meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at Town Hall. The job is expected to take two years to complete. During construction, the bridge in the center of the community that separates the east and west sides of Naugatuck will only be open in one direction — to cars going east toward Route 8.
In the meantime, traffic going in the opposite direction will be detoured onto Water Street, Cedar Street, Meadow Street, Cherry Street, over the Salem Bridge and onto South Main Street.
While businesses in the area have expressed concerns about having traffic closed in one direction, Stewart said it's not possible to leave both lanes open. Emergency responders have said that adding a temporary traffic light for emergencies could be an alternative. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

January 18, 2016

CT Construction Digest January 18, 2016

Gas Pipeline Plans Face Stiff Opposition

Proposals for new natural gas lines across Connecticut and New England are igniting fierce debates over interlocking issues of energy costs, fossil fuels and climate change.
The final outcome, according to those on both sides of the controversy, is likely to have a major impact on New England energy production and its cost to consumers in Connecticut and the region for decades to come.
Along the way, there have been demonstrations, votes by local legislative bodies, legal filings and political infighting.
"It's a huge cost financially," Greg Cunningham, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation in Massachusetts, said of the proposals. "This is also increasing our reliance on another fossil fuel" at a time when New England and the U.S. should be concentrating on renewable energy, he said.
Mitch Gross, a spokesman for Eversource Energy, said the existing gas supply system "can't meet demands at critical times of the year," and those shortages are what drive up the costs of energy. He said Eversource executives believe the region needs to use a combination of expanded gas lines, conservation and alternative energy to meet the needs of consumers and business.
Skirmishes over two major multibillion-dollar pipeline plans have ranged throughout the region, from West Hartford to southern New Hampshire. It's a fight pitting the energy industry and pro-natural gas governors like Dannel P. Malloy against environmentalists, community activists and landowners. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Road Work To Close Route 2 Westbound Ramp To Founders Bridge Beginning Monday

EAST HARTFORD — Beginning Monday, motorists on Route 2 west will have to take a detour on local roads to get to the Founders Bridge and continue into downtown Hartford.
The regular route, an elevated highway ramp, will be closed around the clock until work is completed in November, a state transportation official said.
"The structure is in poor condition. It needs to be replaced," Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick said earlier this month.
The work will close the downtown Hartford exit off Route 2 that many commuters into the city's downtown use. Although there is a sign at the exit, there is no exit number.
"This is a big morning commute throughway," Nursick said. "There's a lot of folks in that area in the morning."
A local detour to Route 2 west will be put in place to redirect traffic, Nursick said. Motorists will be asked to take Exit 3 to Pitkin Street to Darlin Street to the Route 2 west on-ramp to the Founders Bridge. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Transportation Finance Panel Materials & Final Reports