August 31, 2017

CT Construction Digest Thursday August 31, 2017

 
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$700 Million Bonding Cap Impacts
Projects with contracts/obligations that should continue:
Public Trans
Walk Bridge design activities and rights of way acquisitions, CP 243 construction, and Dockyard construction
Hartford Line Construction (New Haven to Hartford) and Hartford Line Locomotive Overhauls
60 M8 option order
Highway and Bridge
Gold Star Bridge (SB), under construction using Ramp Up funds, est. $13m cash flow FY18
Atlantic Street, recently started, various state bond sources @ $64.7m total state cost (est.$20m cash flow in FY 18)
Waterbury bridges, out of federal NHS bridge penalty funds (lapse annually), $188m total project cost with state match (est. $5m state cash flow FY18)
Various projects using $81m NHS bridge penalty funds (lapse annually) (est. $15m state cash flow FY18)
Planned New Construction that could be canceled/delayed:
Public Trans
Walk Bridge construction program, including all advance utility relocation efforts, and bridge construction including East Avenue, Osborne Avenue and Fort Point Street Bridge projects
Hartford Line Construction (Hartford - Springfield) Including all stations north of Hartford (Newington, West Hartford, Windsor, Windsor Locks and Enfield)
New Haven Rail Yard East End Connector for CCO
Clinton Railroad Station
Merritt 7 Railroad Station
New London Track 6 Electrification
Rehabilitation of 4 Bridges on the Housatonic Line
Waterbury Signalization
Highway and Bridge (amounts represent total project cost)
Charter Oak Bridge, $228m, and associated I-91 Resurf/Bridge, $54m
Gold Star Bridge (NB), $97m
I-84 W. Htfd. Operational Lanes, 155-171, LGCT @ 65m
 VIP Resurfacing Program @ $69m
 VIP Pavement Preservation @ $25m
 VIP Guiderail Program @ $5-10m
Stamford Route 1 Bridge #37, @ 20m
E. Htfd. Bridges (design-build), 171-431, ADV 9/13/16, CN @ 23m (going thru RFQ process now)
Bridge Repair Unit work/joints under FIF-Bridge @ $30m
I-84 W. Htfd. Signs, @ $13.25m
Pavement Preservation, various under FIF-Road @ $25m
159-188 Wethersfield Maintenance Facility @ $14m
Danbury Repair Facility @ $10m
ADA curb ramps @ $6m
Suspension/delay of projects in various stages of design that will not advance including:
Public Trans
New Haven Railroad Station Parking Garage
Stamford Railroad Station Parking Garage
Stamford Railroad Station Pedestrian Bridge
Orange Railroad Station
Madison Railroad Station – Pedestrian Bridge and Parking Garage
Barnum Railroad Station
CT Transit Hartford Facility Improvements 
Highway and Bridge
I-84/CT 8 Waterbury, (alternatives analysis)  
I-84 Viaduct, 63-716
I-84 Danbury Ex 3-8, 34-349,
 7&15 Norwalk
Municipal Programs for which funding would be cancelled or delayed beyond FY 2018:
Town Aid Road Program - $30 million
LOTCIP – approximately $35 million
Local Bridge – approximately $5 million

Carpenter Companies to move, close two divisions

BRISTOL - Carpenter Companies has restructured their business model and services to focus on the real estate division, and is moving locations in Bristol come October.
“We got rid of our site work division and mechanical division,” said president of the company, George Edward Carpenter. He took ownership of the company a little over a week ago, when his father, George T. Carpenter, retired.
The real estate division handles full-service property management for residential, commercial and retail properties.
“We wanted to get rid of site work and mechanical because it is more cost effective,” he said. “What we are really doing is being like other contractors out there that sub out contracts a lot. It’s more cost effective to sub them out.”
Carpenter explained this means they will no longer do public works job for the state, “because there is too much overhead. We are really just focusing on real estate.”
“In two years, we are going to specialize in special trades because is it better business decision and model,” he said. “The company is not going to close, and will never.”
The company was established in 1924, by Spartacus “Spark” Carpenter, and it was incorporated in 1932. It has since been located in Bristol.
Carpenter said that the company is currently located at 67 Race St., and will relocate to 225 N. Main St. by mid-October. The company already owns the new location.

New London leaders praise planned development in Fort Trumbull area

New London — City and state leaders on Wednesday praised a planned condominium complex on Howard Street as one of the first steps in a major boost to the city’s urban center.
A ceremonial signing of a development agreement for Shipway 221 was held at the Fort Trumbull conference center. The phased development, with construction expected to start by spring, will start with 70 units and is expected to later grow to 200 units with prices starting above $200,000.
The $30 million project, on long vacant land owned by Renaissance City Development Association, is being developed by New London County Realty with project manager Tony Silvestri and financial backer Louis Tagliatela of the Franklin Construction Company.
The project will have amenities that include an all-seasons pool, outdoor theater, rooftop gathering area, gym, climbing wall and pub.
“It’s been 17 years since we started this journey. Shipway 221 represents the first out-of-the-ground project in the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development area,” RCDA President Linda Mariani said.
There has been no new construction in Fort Trumbull since the area became the focus of a national fight over eminent domain.
Mariani said the condos are targeting millennials and empty nesters who will bring in much-needed disposable income to the local economy.
“It’s a milestone. We believe this is going to be the spark that will turn Fort Trumbull around very quickly,” Mayor Michael Passero said. “What you’re going to see is this momentum pick up."
Passero praised the Tagliatela family and Silvestri for prior developments — Harbour Towers and City Flats initiative — and the Tagliatelas' continued investment in the city.
“It’s going to rewrite the demographic maps and it’s going to rewrite the standing of New London, Connecticut, not only in southeastern Connecticut but the state,” Passero said. “People want to move into this transit-oriented district and they want to live in the little urban core. What we’re going to do is position this city to take full advantage of that and provide quality housing.”
Shipway 221 is one of two developments planned along Howard Street that will take advantage of the growing number of employees at the nearby General Dynamics Electric Boat facility.
A.R. Building Co., now working to complete a $14 million, 104-unit apartment complex on Mansfield Road, has proposed a $17 million, 90-unit apartment complex at the corner of Bank and Howard streets on land known as Parcel J.
It is unclear if a recent lawsuit filed against A.R. Building Co. by its former development partners, Klewin Construction, will affect those plans.
Kyle Klewin, the president of Mystic-based Klewin Development, a subsidiary of Klewin Construction, previously had pitched a plan for Parcel J but pulled out in 2015, citing a soured relationship with A.R. Building Co. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Rentschler Field outlet shoppes center greenlighted

Farmington's United Technologies Corp. and Michigan's Horizon Group Properties inked a lease agreement allowing for the development of a new outlet center in East Hartford, Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc said Wednesday.
The retail development will join Cabela's as the first phase of a new lifestyle center at the Rentschler Field property, Leclerc said. Subsequent phases will include housing, entertainment and food venues.
The new 280,000-square-foot center near Rentschler Field is estimated to cost $107 million. The downsized outlet center, which was originally planned to be as large as 410,000 square feet, could take up to 18 months to build if work starts this fall, the mayor said in an email.
A new road has already been built to support the project. The new East Hartford Boulevard North roadway will provide access to the new center, as well as new parking lots at the stadium. UTC's Rentschler Field Development Corp. completed the state-funded, $7 million new road on time and under budget, Leclerc said.
"The lease signing comes at an extremely exciting time for our community," said Leclerc. "It coincides with the scheduled opening of the Pratt & Whitney World Headquarters, the United Technologies Research Center expansion, and equally important, the creation of hundreds of new temporary construction jobs and permanent jobs both at the retail center as well as at United Technologies."



 

August 30, 2017

CT Construction Digest Wednesday August 30, 2017

BDA approves master plan for Centre Square development

BRISTOL - The Bristol Development Authority approved the master plan for the development at Centre Square and the landscape plan for the Bristol Hospital Ambulatory Care Center at Monday night’s meeting.
The master plan, which was approved by the downtown committee of the development authority earlier this month, was created by engineering consultant Milone & MacBroom. It pertains to the portion of Centre Square that will not be part of the ambulatory care center.
Included is the construction of a central roadway, bus stops, two-story buildings, on-street parking, scattered parking lots, lane reconfigurations and streetscape improvements.
Justin Malley, executive director of the development authority, explained an alternative plan for a parking garage and public comments were incorporated in the master plan.
“The only things that changed, is that Milone & MacBroom incorporated public comments,” he said, and “the option to relocate the parking on the site to the center of the site, rather than having the parking garage sort of to the north end of the site near McDonald’s, which would eat up some of the prime developable area.”
The landscape plan, which was created by Rendina Healthcare Real Estate and Bristol Hospital, was approved by the downtown committee of the development authority earlier this month. It pertains to the portion of Centre Square from the sidewalk of Riverside Avenue up the slight hill to the parking lot.
Malley explained that part of the purchase and sale agreement between Bristol Hospital and the city required the development authority to approve the landscaping plan.
“This is required per the purchase and sale agreement for the BDA to look at the landscaping plan for this specific area of the site,” Malley said.
Mayor Ken Cockayne said, “Per the purchase and sale agreement, they had to show what their landscape was going to look like. Part of the council’s concern was that we weren’t going to be looking at asphalt from Riverside Avenue.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
New London to sign condominium development agreement

New London — City officials on Wednesday will sign a development agreement for the Shipway 221 condominium project on Howard Street and a construction agreement for Parcel J, at the corner of Bank and Howard streets.
In June and August, respectively, the City Council approved development agreements for Parcel J and Shipway 221.
Parcel J is the site of a proposed 90-unit apartment complex, valued at $17 million. A.R. Building Co. is developing both this project and the 104-unit Mansfield Road Apartments, which is expected to open in the fall.
Shipway 221 is a $30 million, 200-unit condominium project on parcels owned by Renaissance City Development Association.
Mayor Michael Passero said in a news release that with Electric Boat expecting to hire thousands of new employees in the next decade, the city is answering the question of, "Where are all these new employees going to live?" with the three projects.
These developments come as the city works to draw in other potential developments. In June, Passero met in Boston with real estate developers John E. Drew and Michael Keyes, Legal Sea Foods President and CEO Roger Berkowitz, and former Boston Redevelopment Authority Vice Chairman Paul Foster.

Yard Goats' Season Closes, But Legal Battle Drags On

As the Yard Goats’ regular season — the first played in the team’s new, upscale stadium north of downtown — nears its conclusion, a battle wages on in the legal arena.
Team owner Josh Solomon was in court Tuesday, seeking to bring to a head a lawsuit he’s been entangled in for more than a year. The fired developers of Dunkin’ Donuts Park, where the Yard Goats have hosted dozens of sold-out games this summer, are suing Solomon, alleging he pressured the city to expand the scope of work at the ballpark, driving up the price and ultimately derailing the project.
City leaders fired the developers — Centerplan Construction Co. and DoNo Hartford — last year after they missed several key deadlines to complete the stadium. The ballpark’s opening, set for April 2016, was delayed a year and the Yard Goats played their entire first season on the road.
Arch Insurance, which guaranteed completion of the park, handled a takeover agreement and hired contracting firm Whiting-Turner to finish the park.
Centerplan has also sued the city, claiming it was wrongfully terminated, and is seeking $90 million for work performed at the park, for its inability to continue development in Hartford’s downtown north neighborhood — and collect payment — and for funds that Arch Insurance is seeking to recover from Centerplan.
The developers were supposed to complete several other phases of construction in the area, including housing, retail, a hotel and a much-needed grocery store, but the lawsuits have thrown those plans into limbo.
Attorneys for Solomon in June filed a motion for a pretrial judgment, saying there is “a complete lack of evidence of any unfair or deceptive conduct” by Solomon or the team. They asked the judge to rule in Solomon’s favor.
Raymond Garcia, a lawyer for Centerplan and its chief executive, Robert Landino, has charged that Solomon pushed the city to issue change orders that boosted the scope of the project, making it impossible for the developers to complete the stadium on time and on budget. Solomon has denied the claims.
Centerplan also accused Solomon of failing to come through with a $2 million payment to help cover a portion of the construction cost overruns.
In court Tuesday, Garcia said Centerplan was excluded from a series of meetings last year that the city, the team, ballpark designers and others attended. Both sides are expected to review documents and depose witnesses before a ruling is made on the motion. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Trump's planned building boom bumps up against worker shortage

President Donald Trump's plan to boost the economy with millions of jobs rebuilding roads, bridges and ports has a snag, the construction industry says: There aren't nearly enough skilled workers to fill them.
Companies including AECOM, Skanska USA Inc. and Turner Construction Co. say the industry is hard-pressed to find enough people for current openings, let alone with the expansion Trump envisions with an additional $1 trillion in spending over the next decade. And though its full impact isn't yet clear, rebuilding efforts from Hurricane Harvey are likely to increase the demand for workers in the coming years.  "I don't think we could even dream of finding enough people," said Richard Cavallaro, president and chief executive officer of Skanska USA Civil, said of Trump's plan to employ millions. "I just don't think it's going to happen like that."
With the U.S. economy at close to full employment, economists say there aren't millions of unemployed people looking for construction jobs there were about 225,000 unfilled posts in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's only slightly down from a nine-year peak of 238,000 openings in July 2016, data show. On top of that, about 3 million of the current 14.5 million construction workers will retire or leave the industry over the next decade and need to be replaced, according to Joseph Kane, a former economist at the BLS who is now at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "There really isn't a lot of breathing room in that market," he said.
The administration's immigration policies could compound the stress by making it more difficult to bring in qualified workers from other countries, said Stacey Bledsoe, director of human resource services for PCL Construction in Denver. In 2014, almost one of every four construction workers was an immigrant, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data.
Companies have already been reaching for whatever levers they can find to draw workers. Because firms are competing to secure subcontractors, New York-based Turner Construction has a program to pay them more quickly than other companies to ensure their availability, said Attilio Rivetti, vice president and director of preconstruction and estimating. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Survey: Contractors Cannot Find Enough Craft Workers to Meet Demand

Seventy percent of construction firms report they are having a hard time filling hourly craft positions that represent the bulk of the construction workforce, according to the results of an industry-wide survey released today by Autodesk and the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials said that many firms are changing the way they operate, recruit and compensate, but cautioned that chronic labor shortages could have significant economic impacts absent greater investments in career and technical education.
"In the short-term, fewer firms will be able to bid on construction projects if they are concerned they will not have enough workers to meet demand," said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer for the Associated General Contractors. "Over the long-term, either construction firms will find a way to do more with fewer workers or public officials will take steps to encourage more people to pursue careers in construction."
Of the more than 1,600 survey respondents, 70 percent said they are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions, Sandherr noted. Craft worker shortages are the most severe in the West, where 75 percent of contractors are having a hard time filling those positions, followed by the Midwest where 72 percent are having a hard time finding craft workers, 70 percent in the South and 63 percent in the Northeast.
The labor shortages come as demand for construction continues to grow. Sandherr noted that construction employment expanded in 258 out of 358 metro areas that the association tracks between July 2016 and July 2017, according to a new analysis of federal construction employment data the association also released today. Growing demand for construction workers helps explain why 67 percent of firms report it will continue to be hard, or get harder, to find hourly craft workers this year. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

With No Federal Infrastructure Spending Plan, Construction Stocks Drop

Construction stocks are losing money as President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure spending plans could be pushed back to 2018. Although Trump promised to get the money early is his first year as president, he has now said that he will try to get a bill through Congress at the end of this year, but Bloomberg Markets reported that 2018 is looking more likely.
So far, both Fluor Corp. and Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. (CBI) have seen cost overruns on some larger projects.
“Clearly, we had a pop in all these names with the election,” said Brent Thielman, a construction industry analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co. “As investors are digesting that this is going to take more time — if it happens at all — we're sort of back to the reality of the market.”
According to economic advisor Gary Cohn, the Trump Administration would like for Congress to approve an infrastructure plan this year, but it must first prioritize the nation's debt ceiling and an unwritten tax bill.
The country's 18 largest engineering and construction companies all saw stock increases immediately following President Trump's win last November. Between Nov. 8 and the end of 2016, Fluor's stock grew by 18 percent, and CBI's by 13 percent. But ever since January, both companies have seen losses, with Fluor dropping by 28 percent and CBI by 65 percent, Bloomberg Markets reported.
In 2014, both Fluor and CBI signed fixed-priced contracts for electricity, petrochemical and natural gas processing plants, but both companies have learned that the payments from these projects are falling short thanks to equipment and worker issues and inaccurate estimates.
Half of Fluor's money comes from energy, chemicals and mining endeavors. In August, the company took a $124 million writedown after $30 million charges in Q1 and $265 million in 2016 due to problems with its gas-fired power plants and a petrochemical facility, Bloomberg Markets reported.
After CBI's $548 million writedown in Q2 related to issues with liquid natural gas processors and gas-fired plants, the company announced it will sell its technology unit.
Fluor and CBI aren't the only companies seeing a decline in stock prices: Jacobs Engineering Group has dropped by 11 percent this year, and AECOM has plummeted by 14 percent, Bloomberg Markets reported.

 

August 29, 2017

CT Construction Digest Tuesday August 29, 2017

Platt renovations wow students on first day in Meriden

MERIDEN — Necks craned and eyes widened as students walked through the lofty new glass entranceway at Platt High School Monday. Not only was it the first day of school, but the first day without clamoring construction crews and blocked hallways after four years of renovations.
“A lot of them just stopped and looked around because this wasn’t here last year. Walls that were up when they left were taken down and the whole space is open now,” Platt Principal Robert Montemurro said. “... a lot of amazed looks on their faces.”
The newly renovated school was one highlight on Monday, said Superintendent of Schools Mark Benigni.
“The consistency of the leadership teams makes it smoother every year,” Benigni said, while visiting John Barry School. “The biggest issue was the traffic because we have a lot of parents coming on the first day. But the facilities are in good shape and the entire faculty and the students are glad to be back.” Last year, construction on the $97.7 million Platt renovation project was still under way when students returned, forcing them to use a temporary entrance at the back of the building. The main entrance, administrative offices, auditorium and gym were under construction and students had to maneuver through detours.
Senior class president Carson Coon, 17, recalled the daily confusion of trying to get to class last year.
“It’s weird actually knowing exactly where you are going to go because you are used to having detours no matter where you went,” Coon said. “One day you’d walk down a hallway to get to your class and the next day you’d go and there’s orange cones and guys in vests working so you’d have to find another way.”
As the bell rang between first and second period, students poured into the wide, light-bathed hallways, cascading down the tiered stairs in one of the school’s main hallways.
Big, bright, and beautiful was how senior Gillian Galotti, 16, described the building.
“It’s not hectic anymore,” Galotti said. “I know where everything is already.”
Elsewhere in the district, younger children waved goodbye to parents who watched them board the bus, or walked them into their new classrooms. Kindergarten parents had the most difficult time.
“There were more parents crying than kids,” said John Barry Principal Dan Crispino.
Agampreet Dhot, 5, was nervously holding on to her father Aman Dhot as they walked to her kindergarten class at Israel Putnam School. Earlier in the morning, Agampreet was looking forward to going to school, her father said. But as she got closer to the commotion of parents, the buses and noisy students in front of the school, she clung tighter to dad. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
 
STORRS (AP) — Thousands of University of Connecticut students are returning to campus this weekend to find some major road construction and traffic problems.
About 19,300 undergraduate and graduate students will start classes Monday in Storrs and 12,400 are moving into the dormitories.
The school was unable to complete scheduled road construction this summer, leaving one entrance to campus closed and several roads with altered or one-way traffic patterns.
The school says the construction is part of a multi-year project necessary to replace aging pipes and other underground infrastructure.
Students have been sent emailed directions on how to get where they are going, and the school is asking them not to rely on GPS devices, which don't show the construction.
Other motorists are being asked to avoid the area.

Converted Manchester Buildings Ready For New School Year

Construction of a new fifth- and sixth-grade school will finish in time for the start of classes next week, but above the original cost estimate, officials said.
Taxpayers need not fear, however, because the overall school modernization plan they approved in 2014 will cost less than initial calculations, town officials said.
Two years ago, the architect for the fifth- and sixth-grade school project told the board of education that the conversion of the long-shuttered Cheney Building and its adjacent boiler building, along with an expansion of Bennet Academy, would cost about $17.9 million. The actual cost will be about $19.9 million, Facilities Project Manager Christopher Till said Monday.  After state reimbursement, town taxpayers were to be responsible for about $7 million of the Cheney/Bennet costs, according to initial estimates. That figure is now about $7.5 million, Till said.
But General Manager Scott Shanley said the added costs will be offset by savings in the overall $84 million modernization project, which includes the fifth- and sixth-grade school combining Bennet Academy with the Cheney buildings. The overall plan also includes "like-new" renovations and additions to Waddell and Verplanck elementary schools and the closings of Robertson and Washington elementary schools.
For this school year, Waddell students will attend classes in the Cheney buildings while work at their school is completed in time for the 2018-19 school year. Waddell teachers have been in the new buildings for several days setting up their classrooms, Till said. In 2018-19, all fifth-graders will attend the Cheney/Bennet school. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Work On Last Leg Of Glastonbury Roundabout To Begin This Week

Work on the last spoke of a new roundabout — Hebron Avenue to Main Street — will begin later this week. The work will lead to the closure of Hebron Avenue from Main Street to New London Turnpike, though the highly commercial area will be open to local traffic.
Workers are planning on paving the eastern leg of Hebron Avenue from the roundabout to Concord Street this week and when that is completed three of the four spokes will be open to traffic. However, the southbound lanes of New London Turnpike to the south of the roundabout will be closed as workers complete the second half of the interior circle of the roundabout.
"When it's all said and complete, this will really look nice and be a nice addition to the Town Center," Town Manager Richard J. Johnson said. "This is the last leg and we plan to be substantially completed with traffic flowing through there by the end of September."
The new Hebron Avenue closure will remain in place for a few weeks. Crosswalks and brick pavers along with granite curbing has been installed along both the New London Turnpike north and Hebron Avenue east portion of the roundabout. Workers are installing granite curbing along the northbound lanes of New London Turnpike to the south of the roundabout.
"We want to stress that all accesses to businesses will remain open during construction," Town Engineer and Director of Physical Service Daniel A. Pennington said. "Access will remain from Main Street. Everything is coming together and it will really look aesthetically pleasing once it's done." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
 
NEW HAVEN >> During a ceremony Monday unveiling renderings and new signs for the new Q-House site, Alder Jeanette Morrison, D-22, explained how the local institution has been a haven for African Americans in the community since its inception.
When it was first built in the early 1920s, Morrison said it helped serve African Americans migrating from the South.
“(They) needed to understand the area in which they were in and needing a safe place for their children, and that’s what the Q-House did in 1924,” Morrison said.
Renderings unveiled Monday show the new Q-House will be situated at Dixwell Avenue and Foote Street.
As the local alder, Morrison has led the charge for the new Q-House, which has received more than $15 million in state funds since 2014. The new facility will provide services for people aged, “1 to 100-plus,” Morrison said.
“The concerned citizens and other groups have worked tirelessly since the day doors closed of the former Q-House building,” Morrison said. “Although we were really sad, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise, because we knocked down a 20,000-square-foot building and now we’re going to build a 54,000-square-foot building.”
The previous Q-House, formally the Dixwell Community House, which closed in 2003, was demolished in January and was technically the second Q-House, Morrison said. The new Q-House will house not only a community center for youth, but a senior center, the Stetson Branch Library and offices from the Hill Health Center.
“I don’t think we’re going to need a fourth, though. I think this is going to be about it,” Morrison said.
The facility is being designed by New Haven-based Kenneth Boroson Architects. City Engineer Giovanni Zinn said the project will go out to bid in the fall. There will likely be more on-site work next spring, Zinn said. He said the previous Q-House demolition was completed on budget.
Mayor Toni Harp so prioritized the project that Morrison said she met with her shortly after Harp became mayor.
“I’m excited by the prospect of a new Q-House on this site,” Harp said, calling it, “a focal point of wishful thinking and eager anticipation for the past 12 years or more.”
Facilities like the Q-House are valuable because they give youths a chance to harness their “creative and productive energy” and help them further develop, Harp said.
“Prior to that on this site, vivid, lifelong memories were made during the programs, events and daily activities that made the Dixwell Q-House a cornerstone of this community,” Harp said.
City Librarian Martha Brogan said the new facility’s lower level will be devoted to young residents and will include interactive elements. The second level will have community spaces, classrooms and a studio.
Curlena McDonald served as co-chairwoman of the Q-House building committee, along with Morrison. She thanked the citizens who helped push for the project’s development. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

With No Federal Infrastructure Spending Plan, Construction Stocks Drop

Construction stocks are losing money as President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure spending plans could be pushed back to 2018. Although Trump promised to get the money early is his first year as president, he has now said that he will try to get a bill through Congress at the end of this year, but Bloomberg Markets reported that 2018 is looking more likely.
So far, both Fluor Corp. and Chicago Bridge & Iron Co. (CBI) have seen cost overruns on some larger projects.
“Clearly, we had a pop in all these names with the election,” said Brent Thielman, a construction industry analyst with D.A. Davidson & Co. “As investors are digesting that this is going to take more time — if it happens at all — we're sort of back to the reality of the market.”
According to economic advisor Gary Cohn, the Trump Administration would like for Congress to approve an infrastructure plan this year, but it must first prioritize the nation's debt ceiling and an unwritten tax bill.
The country's 18 largest engineering and construction companies all saw stock increases immediately following President Trump's win last November. Between Nov. 8 and the end of 2016, Fluor's stock grew by 18 percent, and CBI's by 13 percent. But ever since January, both companies have seen losses, with Fluor dropping by 28 percent and CBI by 65 percent, Bloomberg Markets reported.
In 2014, both Fluor and CBI signed fixed-priced contracts for electricity, petrochemical and natural gas processing plants, but both companies have learned that the payments from these projects are falling short thanks to equipment and worker issues and inaccurate estimates.
Half of Fluor's money comes from energy, chemicals and mining endeavors. In August, the company took a $124 million writedown after $30 million charges in Q1 and $265 million in 2016 due to problems with its gas-fired power plants and a petrochemical facility, Bloomberg Markets reported. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 

August 28, 2017

CT Construction Digest Monday August 28, 2017

As Students Arrive, UConn Scaling Back Expansion Plans

As UConn prepares to welcome 23,850 undergraduate students to Storrs and its regional campuses for the school year, some high-profile projects have been delayed by the state's continuing fiscal crisis.
Last fall, UConn opened a gleaming, $105 million, eight-story dormitory and a $95 million engineering and science building is nearing completion, but other parts of the $1.5 billion Next Generation Connecticut plan have been put on hold.
"We're disappointed on the projects that are paused, but I have to say we've gotten a lot done," UConn President Susan Herbst said. "We've got a lot of major projects done and on schedule. I think we've got a lot done that needed to be done. I don't think it holds the university back too much yet."
The expected reduction in the state's block grant to the university — down at least $18.7 million since the governor's first budget proposal early this year and down $31.6 million with fringe benefit costs included — contributes to an operating budget that is too tight to hire the faculty and staff needed to accommodate growth in enrollment. UConn's aim has been to increase the number of students on campus by 5,000 during a 10-year period, but with the tight operating budget that expansion is on hold. Admissions Director Nathan Fuerst said the university will be admitting a smaller number of first year students — 3,650 compared to 3,800 last year.
"We are beginning to pace ourselves," Fuerst said. "It's fair to say that if we had the resources the state legislature had mapped out, we would have stuck with the growth plan. We're hitting the pause button is the most appropriate thing to say."
The state embarked on its 10-year Next Generation program three years ago with the aim of expanding the number of students by 6,580 in Storrs and Stamford campuses, strengthening engineering, science and technology programs and ultimately providing a spark for Connecticut's economy. Thus far, the university has added 1,500 students under Next Generation.
A drive around the Storrs campus shows much progress has been made. At the western end of campus is the Next Generation Connecticut Residence Hall, which opened last fall to 727 students, and includes a "learning community" for engineers and an Innovation Zone or makerspace on the first floor for invention and collaboration.
The Putnam Refectory dining hall, located nearby, received a $23 million makeover. The renovation doubled the number of seats, opened up the interior space to bring in more light, and added a juice bar and a "green wall" garden from which chefs can pluck fresh herbs.CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
Malloy worries lawmakers won’t follow through on $100 billion transportation plan once he is gone

On the first day of his second term, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made transportation one of the pillars of his administration.
He called for a “collective vision for the next 30 years” that would produce a “best-in-class transportation system” in his January 2015 State of the State address. He unveiled a 30-year, $100 billion plan just weeks later.
As Malloy, who will not seek re-election next year, heads into the final 16 months of his tenure, he’s concerned about the future of his 30-year plan after just four years.
In particular, he’s worried the next governor and the legislature will take a shorter view and curtail transportation spending.
“You’ve got to be able to think big to be able to design a transportation system for the future, as opposed to what Connecticut has largely done is they’ve looked backwards,” Malloy said during a recent interview with the Record-Journal.
He said the state is struggling to compete with its neighbors, particularly New York and Massachusetts, because it neglected needed investments for decades while those states made improvements.
Malloy said Connecticut is “better situated than some states” on transportation, but its lack of investment is magnified by its proximity to New York City and Boston.
Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, co-chairman of the legislature’s Transportation Committee, said he’s hopeful the next governor “would want to follow in (Malloy’s) footsteps.”
“I’ve never heard one person say that infrastructure or transportation isn’t important,” he said.
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, credited Malloy with bringing transportation back to the forefront after years of neglect, and he thinks lawmakers are ready to continue.
“I think the governor has done a good job every chance he has, and he should be applauded,” said Fasano, who also represents Wallingford.
Malloy credited former Gov. William O’Neill, a Democrat, with trying to increase investments in transportation, but repeated his frequent complaint that Republican governors before him neglected the state’s infrastructure.
It’s not just Republicans. Democrats have held control of the legislature for 30 years — except 1995 and 1996 when Republicans had a majority in the Senate — and they approved budgets that put off projects or raided the Special Transportation Fund to balance the budget, Malloy said.
“This is a problem that both Democrats and Republicans invented,” he said, adding that a constitutional lock box to protect the Special Transportation Fund, going to statewide referendum in November 2018, will help prevent the same issues going forward.
Legislative leaders say they have plans to keep transportation funds out of future budget debates.
Guerrera has been one of the legislature’s biggest proponents of tolling, an idea that has gained momentum among Democrats.
“As much as things, right now, how difficult it is — if you stop projects dead in their tracks, then this state is heading for a spiral that’s unstoppable,” Guerrera said about the need for new revenue.
Rep. Emil “Buddy” Altobello, D-Meriden, agreed that the state needs to “change our mix of revenue” designated for transportation projects. He also said tolls, or other similar user fees, are the fairest method because they charge those who use roadways.
“You can’t have it both ways,” he said. “You can’t have no revenues without potholes.”
Despite the gain in momentum, Democrats continue to have a mixed reaction to tolls. Guerrera admitted House Democrats, in particular, were shy of being able to get a majority for adoption, although by just one vote.
Republicans remain opposed to the notion. While most states on the East Coast have tolls, Connecticut doesn’t, Fasano said, because the state has the highest gas tax and gets extra funding from the federal government.
Other Republicans say the state is not in a position financially to afford tolls or other new revenue sources.
“I think it’s becoming more and more evident that Connecticut is in the midst of a full-blown budget catastrophe, and that pertains to both the General Fund and the Special Transportation Fund,” said Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden.
Instead, Republicans say the state should prioritize its bonding to focus borrowing for transportation projects and school construction. House and Senate Republicans presented a plan in 2015, called “Prioritize Progress,” that they project would generate $67.4 billion over 30 years for transportation, using bonding and federal aid.
Republicans also note that figure covers projects the state Department of Transportation has identified as necessary, allowing for the state to spend less than Malloy’s plan.
“This is a wonderful dream, but we have to be realistic,” Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, co-chairwoman of the Transportation Committee, said of Malloy’s plan. She also said Connecticut should be more realistic in its planning because “we don’t even know” how people will commute in 30 years.
Malloy defended his $100 billion plan, saying it’s necessary to address neglected projects and prepare Connecticut’s infrastructure for the future.
“If you had done your job, we wouldn’t be playing catch-up right now,” he said. “And we’ve got to play catch-up, otherwise we’re not going to see job growth commensurate with our neighboring states, period.”
Aside from expansions in rail and bus services and increasing highway capacity, Malloy’s plan also seeks to improve access for pedestrians and bicyclists around the state.
“These systems are interdependent, they work off one another,” he said.
Malloy said the business community will need to continue backing his plan once he leaves office.
Both the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association have embraced Malloy’s plan, saying infrastructure improvements are needed to support the state’s economy.
“Congestion on the highway hinders commerce,” said Joe Scully, president of the transport association, which represents the state’s hauling industry.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
 
Gov. Malloy and the legislature are considering deep cuts to municipal aid in order to rectify an over $3 billion budget deficit. Connecticut's Conference of Municipalities (CCM) is rightfully concerned, and looking for other means to keep municipal budgets balanced. One of its main proposals is to raise the thresholds as to when our state's prevailing wage law is triggered on public construction projects.
Connecticut's current prevailing wage thresholds are $400,000 for new construction and $100,000 for renovations. If a project falls below that threshold, then workers only have to be paid the minimum wage. When CCM proposes an increase to the thresholds, they're proposing that more construction workers be paid the minimum wage rather than the family sustaining prevailing wage.
The truth is CCM's proposal will make Connecticut less competitive. Our neighboring states, Massachusetts and New York, have a zero threshold on prevailing wage, meaning that the wage protection is triggered on dollar one on public works projects. Rhode Island's prevailing wage threshold is $1,000, which is less than the federal threshold of $2,000. And New Jersey's threshold is $15,444. We don't want to lose skilled workers to our surrounding states.
Opponents to prevailing wage perpetuate a misconception that the wage protection somehow only benefits union workers or union companies. But that is not true. Non-union contractors also perform work on publicly funded projects. And all construction workers, regardless of union affiliation, benefit from the prevailing wage law. Prevailing wage rates are based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor of what local contractors actually pay workers on public works projects in the state.
CCM has argued that the state and municipalities could save up to 30 percent if there was no prevailing wage requirement. That is simply not true. Labor costs account for only 22 percent of total construction costs.
In fact, Indiana State Rep. Ed Soliday, a Republican whose state repealed its prevailing wage law in 2015, was quoted this past April referencing the claim that opponents made that repeal of the law would save taxpayers 22 percent in construction costs. "[They claim] there's some magic state out there that's going to send all these workers into work for $10 an hour and it's just not going to happen. There's not 22 percent savings out there when the total cost of labor is 22 percent. It's rhetoric. So far, I haven't seen a dime of savings out of it."
Twoprofessors of economics at the University of Utah, Peter Phillips and Cihan Bilingsoy, conducted a study in 2010 entitled "Impact of Prevailing Wages on the Economy and Communities of Connecticut," which found that repeal of the prevailing wage law would result in the loss of $21.6 million in income tax revenue.
Other studies have shown that every dollar spent on a prevailing wage project generates a $1.50 in economic activity — that's money spent at local businesses such as restaurants and auto body shops. Prevailing wages keep workers off public assistance and allow them to contribute to our local economies.
In April of this year, the Midwest Economic Policy Institute conducted a study entitled, "Prevailing Wage and Military Veterans in Connecticut," which found that a weakening of prevailing wage would hurt our returning veterans, which account for 6.6 percent of Connecticut's construction workforce.
The study found that if we increase thresholds, the average income for veteran blue-collar construction workers would decline by over $5,100 annually, and that approximately 270 employed veterans would lose their employer-provided health plan and another 160 would fall below the poverty line and qualify for food stamps. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Gov. Cuomo Opens New Tappan Zee Bridge

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the first span of the newly constructed Tappan Zee Bridge in a ceremony Aug. 24. In his remarks, Cuomo compared the bridge project to the likes of the New York subway system and the George Washington Memorial Bridge, which the government hardly ever pursues, the Times Union reported.
“Today says the New York blood still runs in our veins,” said Cuomo. “We lost the daring we had in 1931 when we build the George Washington Bridge. Today is different.”
The opening celebrations included a marching band, school children, a media bus tour of the bridge, and national, state and local politicians. Cuomo and 96-year-old WWII veteran Chick Galella crossed the bridge in a 1955 Corvette, the very same model Galella drove across the bridge in when it first opened in 1955.
Who Will Pay?
It is still unclear who will pay for the $3.9 billion project, however, according to State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox. So far, the project has received a $1.6 billion federal loan, $750 million in bank settlements and $850 million in bonds. The difference may come from bridge and Thruway tolls, which Cuomo has said could happen. Although the $5 ($4.50 for EZ-Pass) fare is frozen until 2020, some worry that the tolls would need to be raised to cover the cost.
Traffic is slated to start westbound from Westchester to Rockland county Aug. 25, but the project won't be fully complete until sometime next year, the Times Union reported.

August 25, 2017

CT Construction Digest Friday August 25, 2017

Meriden’s LaRosa Construction wins bid for $2.7 million Pratt Street gateway project

MERIDEN — The city has awarded LaRosa Construction Co. a $2.7 million project to convert Pratt Street into a boulevard-style “gateway” to the city, reducing the road to one lane in each direction.
The Meriden-based construction company beat out seven other companies, including Morais Concrete Service Inc., which submitted the lowest bid to complete the work. The Morais bid was determined to be in error, according to city officials.
“It was very competitive in the sense that the bidders’ numbers were very close,” said Purchasing Officer Wilma Petro.
LaRosa Construction was previously contracted by the city to transform the former Hub site into the 14-acre Meriden Green, a $14 million flood control project. The city began soliciting bids on the Pratt Street project in June, with the process closing last month. The city received a $3.2 million state grant to finance the project, which required accepting the lowest qualified bidder.Representatives from LaRosa Construction did not return calls for comment Thursday. Morais representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
The project entails reducing Pratt Street from a four-lane undivided road to one lane in each direction, separated by several landscaped medians. It will require the realignment of two intersections, in addition to sidewalk repair, milling and paving and new signs. The work is designed to make Pratt Street the new entrance to the downtown from Interstate 691, while also making the road more friendly to pedestrian and bicycle traffic. 
Eight companies submitted bids for the project — LaRosa, Morais, Colossale Concrete Inc., Paramount Construction, B&W Paving & Landscaping, Star Construction Corp., Empire Paving Inc. and Mather Corporation. Morais initially submitted the lowest cost proposal with a $2,677,374 plan, $3,666 below LaRosa’s $2,681,040 bid. However, an error identified in Morais’ proposal added $32,000 to its budget, putting the company about $28,000 above LaRosa, “which cost them the lowest bid,” Petro said.
Associate City Engineer Howard Weissberg said the city is in the process of finalizing a contract with LaRosa for the project and expects a groundbreaking this September. The first phase of the project will realign the intersections of Camp and Pratt and Center and Pratt streets, create the raised medians and adjust utilities in the area. Weissberg did not anticipate any traffic delays because there will still be one lane open in both directions with turn lanes where appropriate, with the center two lanes closed for construction.
“It’s pretty close to what it’s going to be in the final condition, but in a tighter work zone-type scale,” Weissberg said.
The half million in funding left over for the project outside of LaRosa’s bid will be used for any unforeseen expenses that may arise, Weissberg said. Weissberg expects the project to be completed by the end of 2018. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
 
MERIDEN — Maynard Road Corp., the development arm of the Meriden Housing Authority since 2003, is actively involved in development of two city housing projects with the MHA and a senior housing development in Bristol.
Maynard Road, a partner in Bristol Enterprises LLC, closed on a deal last week to convert two vacant Bristol schools to senior housing with the help of a state loan for $3.5 million, $14 million in historical tax credits, and private lenders.
Maynard Road partnered with developer Ted Lazarus to build the $24 million affordable housing project at the former schools. 
The Bristol senior housing plan is one of several projects Maynard Road has on the books but the only one the Meriden Housing Authority has no role in, said Robert Cappelletti, executive director of the MHA and Maynard Road Corp. The Maynard Road Corp. Board of Directors voted to create Maynard Road Development Co. last month as an entity designated to accept the tax credits on the Bristol project and potential future projects. They also voted to allow Cappelletti to negotiate on behalf of Bristol Enterprises with the state Department of Community and Economic Development for the loan, and with Citibank for private financing, estimated at $9 million total on the project.
Maynard Road also hopes to move forward to complete geo-thermal field installation and solar roofs at the 162-unit Yale Acres this fall. The state recently awarded Maynard Road $5.7 million to rebuild the moderate-income rental units. The property is managed and owned by the Meriden Housing Authority. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
 
 
WATERBURY – The Zoning Commission approved an earth-excavation permit for the state contractor working on the Interstate 84 reconstruction project late Wednesday night.
The commission voted 5-1 to approve a special permit that would allow I-84 Constructors to store 12,000 cubic yards of excavated material on an old quarry at 622 Pearl Lake Road. Commissioner Anthony Vitone voted against it.
The contractor asked to transport 27,500 cubic yards of soil and rock to the site, but the commission, after hearing concerns from neighbors, chopped the allowed volume in half.
Also, the commission reduced the number of trucks per day from 40 to 20 and will limit truck traffic to a five-hour window on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
I-84 Constructors has said it needs the extra storage space because its existing stockpile on Harpers Ferry Road is full.
The commission scaled back the company’s proposal after residents raised concerns about trucks using Pearl Lake Road, which was recently reconstructed, to dump material at the old Calabro quarry.
dump material at the old Calabro quarry.
Rocks won’t be crushed on the property, and the material will remain on site temporarily before it’s recycled and used as fill on the construction project. The city will require the contractor to restore the property to its original state when the work is finished.
Still, residents said more trucks on Pearl Lake Road, where traffic can back up to Sylvan Avenue during rush hour, would make traffic worse and could threaten pedestrians’ safety, including children walking to or from school or a school bus.
As the Zoning Commission’s approval only provides for 12,000 cubic yards of material to be stored on the Pearl Lake Road site, the contractor will need to find another location for the remaining 15,500 cubic yards it plans to excavate.
Before Wednesday’s meeting, Zoning Commission Chairman John Egan and city officials met with the contractor to discuss alternative sites. They tentatively agreed that I-84 Constructors would use a city property on Scott Road, across from Hart Circle, to store the remaining material.
Because the property is owned by the city, I-84 Constructors likely won’t have to obtain approval from a city commission unless the proposed use encroaches on wetlands. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 24, 2017

CT Construction Digest Thursday August 24, 2017

With UConn’s campus now open, Hartford asks, ‘What’s next?’

Hartford — The dust is settling downtown in Connecticut’s capital city.
Dust from construction, that is.
While plenty of smaller projects are still underway, the grand opening of the University of Connecticut’s new branch campus Wednesday means for the first time in about a decade and a half, there is a lull in major redevelopment downtown.
And for the first time in two decades, the city has no concrete vision in place to guide farther development in the years to come.
Downtown redevelopment since the late 1990s has largely been driven by former Gov. John G. Rowland’s “Six Pillars” and the blueprint his administration developed with leaders in the private sector. The bulk of it ultimately became what is now known as Adriaen’s Landing and the Front Street District.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy updated the vision when he took office in 2011, making a greater push for downtown housing, while strongly backing the relocation of UConn’s branch campus from the suburbs to a new home in the city.
With UConn’s move into the once-vacant Hartford Times building on Prospect Street complete, the redevelopment efforts at the Adriaen’s Landing site from the riverfront to Main Street are now largely finished. One last apartment building is under construction on Arch Street, and a handful of retail spaces in the UConn building are still being completed as well.
But what major projects are coming next? That remains unclear.
 Mounting challenges
What is clear is that two major projects that would have an outsized impact downtown remain on hold. Of course, this pause in development had not been planned originally.
The first of the two projects is the city’s ongoing major redevelopment of the area just north of I-84. Officials call it “DoNo,” or Downtown North. At its center is the recently completed minor league baseball stadium, Dunkin’ Donuts Park. A second wave of construction – mixed-use buildings surrounding the stadium – was supposed to be underway at this point.
But the city is tied up in a legal battle with the stadium’s developer, Centerplan Construction Co., which has put a hold on the project for months. It is unclear how long it will take for the dispute to be settled in court.
The second project is a proposal Malloy put forward earlier this year to spend $250 million on a top-to-bottom renovation of the city’s aging downtown arena, the XL Center. State lawmakers have yet to decide whether to approve it.
Even if a comprehensive blueprint for broad redevelopment existed, moving forward still would prove difficult, as both the city and state are struggling financially.
Hartford is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy or state takeover, prompting two of the three major credit ratings agencies to downgrade the city’s bonds to “junk” status. This limits the city’s ability to make any significant long-term investments.
The city has spent months awaiting a signal from the state legislature on whether a takeover is in the works or if bankruptcy remains the only alternative should circumstances necessitate action.
The indecision on the part of state officials is a product of the two-year, $3.5-billion deficit projected for this fiscal year and the next. Lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement on a budget despite the state being seven weeks into the new fiscal year. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE



August 23, 2017

CT Construction Digest Wednesday August 23, 2017

North Stonington will issue bid package for school construction projects

North Stonington — After over a year of preparation, a bid package for the town's $38.5 million school building projects will be issued later this week.
The School Modernization Committee received permission from the state Department of Administrative Services late last week to issue a bid package. For towns seeking state reimbursement of construction costs, the department must review and approve all bid packages.
Mike Urgo, chairman of the modernization committee, said the town had been waiting for the final approval from the state before the bids could go out. That is because referendum language authorizing the renovation, which passed in 2016, specified that the town must receive confirmation that the state will fund the reimbursement of construction costs.
While the Department of Administrative Services has listed the town's renovation projects on its priority list, the state legislature ultimately funds school construction projects through its bonding legislation.
"We have to continue to hope the state will come together with bonding and get the budget done," Urgo said.
Paul Wojtowicz of Downes Construction, the construction manager of the renovation project, said there will be a pre-bid walk through of the town's schools at 3 p.m. Sept. 6. Bids will be due Sept. 21.
The project will address issues at both of the town's schools, including removing hazardous materials, such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The middle and high school students will be moved into a new addition built next to the existing gymatorium across the street, ending use of a tunnel under Route 2 that poses safety concerns, and the elementary school will have a new dedicated cafeteria, among other upgrades.

As UConn returns, a chapter in Hartford's history is completed

For nearly a half-century, the University of Connecticut has had no place to call its own in the state's capital city. Today that changes as Connecticut's flagship university opens the doors of its new $140-million downtown branch campus on Prospect Street in Hartford.
The arrival of the campus, which comes after five years of false starts and setbacks, is a milestone for the university and the city of Hartford. A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m.
For UConn, it marks the institution's return from the suburbs into the heart of the city – where the school first opened its Greater Hartford branch in 1939. It moved to West Hartford in 1970.
The university, in the years since, had been able to continue to claim a "presence" downtown. Some of UConn's graduate business programs are housed in a space it leases in 100 Constitution Plaza, and the university's basketball and ice hockey teams play games in the XL Center every season.
But now, UConn will have a place to call "home."
"It absolutely does feel like a return," UConn President Susan Herbst said. "We have always had a presence in the city, but there is no comparison to relocating our entire campus there, because of the major new physical presence downtown and the fact that all of our academic programs, students, faculty and staff will be housed there."
"This is one of the most significant things UConn and the state will do in our lifetime," she added.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said its opening will be "one of the most momentous days in UConn history," while Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said it is "a tremendously significant development for not just the Front Street or Adriaen's Landing area, but for the entire city."
For Hartford, UConn's move means – at the very least – another vacant building is now filled and more foot traffic is coming to the Front Street District.
The Hartford Times building, which had been empty for more than a decade and a half, was incorporated into the fa├žade of the new UConn building – a design crafted by Robert A.M. Stern, former dean of Yale's architectural school.
The university says more than 3,300 students are enrolled at the campus for classes this fall, with 200 full- and part-time staff joining them. City officials hope their arrival will spur greater economic development.
But the opening of the campus also is a symbolic end, perhaps, to a sweeping project that began two decades ago when one CEO's vision for redevelopment and a too-good-to-refuse offer from the New England Patriots collided at the desk of a governor looking for a win in one of Connecticut's urban centers. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Mandate relief must accompany municipal-aid cuts

In an awkward press conference earlier this month, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stood side by side with the top lobbyists representing Connecticut's cities and towns, who haven't been shy this year voicing their displeasure with the Democratic governor's proposed cuts to municipal aid.
Mayors and first selectmen, of course, would like to be held harmless in Connecticut's ongoing budget battle, but that should not and cannot happen. For years, municipalities have avoided funding cuts while taxpayers have shouldered two major tax increases and state government has been forced to trim costs.
It's time for cities and towns to pay the piper.
Few realize it, but municipal aid is the single largest state expenditure, accounting for about a quarter, or more than $5 billion, of the annual state budget, according to Malloy's office. Most of that money funds education ($4.1 billion) while the rest underwrites local governments.
If lawmakers are going to realistically avoid another tax hike, which seems unlikely these days, they will need to take money out of that pot of gold.
So, while much criticism and blame for the state's budget crisis has been focused on the cost of state government's workforce, we must take a deeper look into the spending of cities and towns.
The issue, however, is not black and white. Blindly cutting municipal aid without loosening draconian mandates and labor laws will be counterintuitive, giving municipal leaders little wiggle room to shave costs and forcing local taxpayers to shoulder the burden in the form of higher property taxes.
That would be another negative blow to the state's business climate and encourage more people to pack their bags for greener (or warmer) pastures.
Malloy has proposed cutting municipal aid by $476 million this fiscal year and recently announced millions of dollars in further cuts to many school districts in order to restore some funding for health and human services.
While we agree with the governor's cuts, they must be accompanied by true and meaningful municipal regulatory relief. Local governments, like the state, are hamstrung by generous and stringent union contracts that must be curtailed or renegotiated if we are to find true financial savings.
For example, it can be difficult to regionalize and consolidate the costs of certain services because employees are protected by collective bargaining.
There are also plenty of costly state mandates cities and towns are forced to comply with that must be reformed.
Municipalities have long argued for curtailing the state's prevailing wage law, which requires municipalities to pay a certain level of wages and benefits on new construction projects.
In January, during the very early days of this year's prolonged budget debate, Malloy did offer some reforms.
For example, his initial budget proposed to increase the prevailing wage threshold for the first time since 1991 to $1 million for new construction and $500,000 for remodeling and to eliminate the requirement for superintendents in small school districts and communities.
Those are meaningful first steps, but we haven't heard much about them actually becoming reality. A major challenge, of course, is that teacher and municipal labor unions are a major and influential special interest at the state Capitol. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Gilbane Receives Project Team Award

Gilbane Building Company was recently honored by the Connecticut Building Congress with a first place Project Team Award in the new construction category for the Hartford Hospital Bone and Joint Institute project in Hartford. Gilbane was also recognized with an award of merit in the K-12 Schools category for the Francis T. Maloney High School in Meriden.

West Haven celebrates ground-breaking for new high school

WEST HAVEN >> The resurrected $130 million project to rebuild and renovateWest Haven High School got its official start Tuesday as officials from the city, its contractors, state representatives and some students used golden shovels to toss some earth — although demolition work to prepare for the project has been going on all summer.
Ground-breaking for the long-delayed “renovate as new” project to build a state-of-the-art West Haven High took place in front of the school’s main entrance on Circle Street.
“It’s a very, very proud moment in my administration,” said Mayor Ed O’Brien at the start of the ceremony. “What a great time to be ... in West Haven.”
After much work to get the designs right, “we have a project that’s within budget” and ready to begin, he said.
O’Brien said later that “it’s important to have a school that’s state-of-the-art — and it’s long overdue.”
Project Manager Richard Snedeker of the Capitol Region Education Council said that by the time the project is completed, “every space” within the high school “will be renovated or brand new.” The completed school is likely to draw students who might otherwise leave to attend magnet schools back into the school system, he said.
“This is a project which I’m so excited about,” said Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro. “It’s been nine years in the making” and “something that we’ve thought about. ... We knew that we were losing students to other school districts, to the magnet programs, and, frankly, we were on the verge of not being able to compete.
“The state-of-the-art facility that we’re going to be building here is going to be good for not only our students and our staff, but for the entire community of West Haven,” Cavallaro said. “I think it’s going to give us a whole new image.”
He thanked O’Brien for his commitment, and said, “I’m just so, so excited that we’ve been able to put this project together.”
Cavallaro said school officials plan to keep reassuring parents and students “that they’re going to keep getting the first-rate education that they’re entitled to” while the project is going on.
The state’s reimbursement rate for the project is 75.36 percent, with the city paying just less than 25 percent. State officials have worked closely with the city and its team to get the details right.
The City Council recently approved a $133.25 million bonding ordinance to finance West Haven’s portion of the cost.
The new school was designed by Antinozzi Associates of Bridgeport to accommodate 1,450 students. The plans include renovating about 98,000 square feet of the existing building, demolishing the remainder, and adding more than 168,000 square feet of new construction.
The total finished project will be 265,959 square feet, with a cutting-edge media center, advanced STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — classrooms and laboratories and upgraded public areas for both the school’s use and the community.
It also will offer enhanced access, better security and lower maintenance and operating costs, officials have said.
The project’s construction phase will consist of three major “subphases” to allow the school to offer a full academic curriculum throughout the project.
Gilbane Building Co. of Glastonbury is the project’s construction manager, with Amar Shamas serving as the project executive. The Capital Region Education Council of Hartford is overseeing the construction financing, with Elizabeth Craun serving as the construction program manager.
Other speakers at the ground-breaking included state Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, state Rep. Dorinda Borer, D-West Haven, and state Rep. Michael DiMassa, D-West Haven. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 21, 2017

CT Construction Digest Monday August 21, 2017

Board looks to make Memorial Boulevard an arts magnet school

BRISTOL - Among various proposals for the former Memorial Boulevard School, one to turn it into a performing arts magnet school just got a boost from the Board of Education.
Last January, state Rep. Chris Ziogas, D-Bristol, organized a tour of the old school for state, city and school officials, with the idea of turning it into a magnet performing arts school.
Chris Wilson, board chairman, said representatives from the Conn- ecticut Depart- ment of Admin- istrative Services’ Office of School Construction encouraged Bristol to apply for funding to renovate the building. He said school officials have now drafted a proposal for the magnet school, which would be for grades six through 12, and would be operated and managed by the Bristol school district.
The board approved the proposal Wednesday night. Wilson said the next step is to get the approval of the Board of Finance and the City Council.
“It’s clear to us that the parents and the families in Bristol are looking for a themed magnet school for performing arts. We’ve always have a strong arts program in our schools, and this certainly would accent that,” he said.
Currently about 100 local students go out of district to performing arts magnet schools in Hartford or Waterbury. The state pays about $5,000 per student for their transportation costs so it would save the state money to keep them in the district, he said.
Karen Vibert, board vice chairwoman, said Bristol students would not have to travel if there city had its own performing arts magnet school, the district wouldn’t have to pay their tuition for other magnet schools, and Bristol would get tuition money from students coming here from other districts.
“There is a very good chance it would be self sustaining,” she said.
Wilson said the project would probably be funded 70 percent by the state and 30 percent by the city. He admitted there is no urgency for the council and finance board to act at the moment because the proposal would have to go before the Connecticut Bond Commission, which will not meet until the state legislature finally passes a budget.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Work scheduled on project related to Walk Bridge on Metro-North line

NORWALK >> Construction will begin next month on two preliminary projects related to replacement of the Walk Bridge on Metro-North’s New Haven line.
The state Department of Transportation this month awarded a $237 million contract to Cianbro-Middlesex Joint Venture for the CP243 Interlocking and Danbury Branch Dockyard projects.
DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said the city, contractor and transportation department officials will meet Thursday in Norwalk to finalize the work schedule for both projects.As with the Walk Bridge replacement, disruptions to the community remain the primary concern, according to local officials. We want to be able to make sure that we can say as much as we can on how it’s going to function, detours, road closures,” said Norwalk Director of Public Works Bruce J. Chimento. “We’re all over that. We’ve just got to make sure that it has (the least) inconvenience as we can to the public.” The Danbury Branch Dockyard Project will upgrade and electrify the southern end of the Danbury branch line, from where it splits from the New Haven Line to the dockyard area one mile north. The improvements will allow commuter trains that begin or end in Norwalk to turn or switch direction. The CP243 Interlocking Project will build a new four-track interlocking, switch-and-signal system that will allow trains to move from one track to another. The project area lies roughly 1.5 miles east of the Walk Bridge on the New Haven Line, between the East Norwalk and Westport stations. Overhead catenary and signal work will extend to South Norwalk Station, according to the DOT. With the hiring of a contractor, work areas have been established near the railroad tracks at the end of Goldstein Place as well as in the parking lot of 10 Norden Place. Construction is expected to begin in late September and continue for three years The projects, although independent of the replacement of the 121-year-old Walk Railroad Bridge, are designed to improve operations on the main line during construction of the new bridge. The Walk Bridge Program team will hold a public meeting on the construction details of the CP243 Interlocking and Danbury Branch Dockyard projects at Norwalk City Hall in September.The main showThe Walk Bridge carries approximately 200 trains and 125,000 passengers over the Norwalk River each day and is part of the busiest rail corridors in the nation. The bridge, however, has outlived its 100-year lifespan as evidenced by repeated operational failures, according to the DOT. The DOT plans to replace the existing structure with a long-span vertical lift bridge. The new bridge will feature a 240-foot deck and provide 200 feet of horizontal navigational clearance and 60 feet of vertical clearance when raised. The bridge replacement remains in the design phase. DOT expects to reach 60-percent design in January, 100-percent design in October 2018, start construction in spring 2019 and complete the new bridge in the fall of 2023. In July, the project passed the scrutiny of the Federal Transit Administration, which issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” for the proposed work. The agency found no need for further evaluation of the project’s environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act, and the project was allowed to proceed to its next stages. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Aug. 31 groundbreaking ceremony slated for Mystic YMCA project

Mystic -- The Ocean Community YMCA has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7.2 million renovation and expansion project of its Mystic branch on Aug. 31 at 3 p.m. There will be food, music, and a speaking program involving community leaders.
Plans call for 12,500 square feet of new space as well as new locker rooms, additional parking, exercise studios, a teen center, dedicated child care room ,community room and an expanded wellness center. The building will be handicapped accessible with an elevator and new HVAC systems.
A new entrance will re-orient the building to overlook the Mystic River. It is estimated that it will take a year to complete the project once work begins. The YMCA will remain open during that time.

First span of NY bridge built to carry millions opening
In this July 25, 2017, file photo, construction continues on the spans of the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, right, as vehicles make their way on the the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, near Tarrytown, N.Y. One of the largest public infrastructure projects underway in the U.S. is about to begin carrying traffic across a broad expanse of the Hudson River. Westbound travelers will be switched from the old Tappan Zee Bridge to the first span of the $4 billion Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge on Friday, Aug. 25 (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature public works project, a $4 billion bridge to be named after his father, is about to begin carrying commuters across the Hudson River in the New York City suburbs.
One span of the future Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge will open to westbound traffic Friday, signaling near-completion of a project to replace the 62-year-old Tappan Zee that has served as the poster child for America's crumbling infrastructure. The second span is scheduled for completion in the spring.
The 3-mile (4.8-kilometer)-long bridge linking Westchester County to the New York State Thruway across the widest point in the Hudson is one of the largest public infrastructure projects underway in the U.S. and a model of the latest engineering. It will take more than 50 million vehicles a year across the river, from Manhattan commuters to truckers looking to skirt the traffic-choked city 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the south.
The construction project, begun by the Thruway Authority in 2013 after decades of political squabbling, still rankles upstate critics who want to know exactly how the state is paying for it.
"Repeatedly we've heard whispers about raising tolls across the Thruway system to pay for a bridge many upstate commuters will never use," said Greg Biryla, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, a coalition of business and trade organizations. "The Thruway is the economic lifeline between our communities. When you increase the cost of that lifeline, you do further damage to the struggling upstate economy."
Abbey Fashouer, a spokeswoman for Cuomo, said upstate residents are not paying for the bridge.
"There has been no upstate toll revenue used to support the construction and financing of the new bridge, and no upstate toll revenue will be necessary to cover any remaining costs as the Tappan Zee currently provides significant funding for the entire Thruway system," she said.
The state has dedicated $2 billion from bank settlements and $1.6 billion from a federal loan to fund the project, according to Cuomo's office. But the Democratic governor said last month that tolls from the entire 570-mile Thruway system will help pay the bridge bills. He has also pledged that Thruway tolls will be frozen through 2020.
E.J. McMahon, president of Empire Center, a conservative think tank, says the Thruway Authority should have increased the bridge toll in anticipation of the project. While other New York City area bridges cost as much as $15, the Tappan Zee is $5 round trip.
Even at $5, the bridge has been a major revenue source for the highway system, with its tolls accounting for about 20 percent of overall revenues, according to Cuomo's office. The Cuomo administration says there are options after 2020 that could offset tolls, like the possibility of additional state resources or future settlement dollars.
While upstate commuters may never use the new bridge, they'll get some use out of the old one. The Thruway Authority is giving away portions of the bridge's deck and its moveable barrier system. Eight counties have requested some of the 150 deck panels to be salvaged for reuse in other bridges.
 Mayor Harry W. Rilling said the city is working diligently to ensure that the project “will cause the least amount of disruption to the environment, residents and businesses in the areas surrounding the Walk Bridge. It is our top priority.”“To this end, we will continue to monitor all activities, undertake necessary planning and work with the CT DOT to ensure that the city of Norwalk, its residents, businesses and visitors are protected from known impacts,” Rilling said in July.

Shawmut Equipment Celebrates 60 Years in New England

Shawmut Equipment has been a leading equipment distributor bringing quality products to its customers since 1957. This year marks 60 years of continued success in the industry. Shawmut represents the Manitowoc Crane Group's range of construction cranes, including Manitowoc crawler cranes, Grove rough terrain cranes, Grove GMK all terrain cranes, Grove hydraulic crawler cranes, Grove yard boss industrial cranes, National boom trucks and Potain self-erecting cranes, as well as a variety of utility equipment. Shawmut is a full-service company, with three facilities offering sales, rentals, parts and service located in Manchester, Conn., South Easton, Mass., and Saint John, New Brunswick.
Shawmut was founded in 1957 by George O'Connell and is still to this day run by the O'Connell family. David O'Connell, George's son, joined the company in the 1960s and took over in 1978 as president. David's sons, Brian O'Connell and Kevin O'Connell, joined the business in early 2000s, as well as David's nephew, Joe Vergoni. Today, all three of them act as vice presidents and sales representatives of the company. Many long-term experienced and knowledgeable employees play a key role in the success of the business, according to the family.
“Our business philosophy is to do the right thing for the customer in each and every aspect of the business,” David O'Connell said. “This is the only way to succeed. We have repeat customers who have done business with us for generations, as well as new customers who are doing business with us for the first time. We attempt to treat all customers in a fair and honest manner, whether it concerns an equipment sale, a rental, a parts purchase or service work.
“I am extremely fortunate to have my two boys, Brian and Kevin, and my nephew, Joe Vergoni, deeply involved in this family business. They are learning the same business values from me that I learned from their grandfather.”
In 1963, the company became one of Grove's first distributors, serving Connecticut and western Massachusetts out of its Manchester, Conn., office. In 1995, Shawmut was made the exclusive dealer of the Manitowoc Company's crawler crane line for all of New England. Likewise, Grove recognized Shawmut's success in its existing territory and encouraged expansion throughout the six states of New England.
By the late 1990s, another facility was needed to satisfy its customer's needs. Shawmut opened another full-service facility in Massachusetts, speeding up response time for service and parts in the expanded territory. The Manitowoc Company acquired Grove Worldwide in 2002 and the company quickly became a global leader in the industry with Shawmut representing all of its product lines.
Shawmut continued to expand its international presence in 2008 when it was awarded the territory of the Atlantic provinces of Canada. Shawmut Equipment of Canada Inc., a full subsidiary of Shawmut Equipment Company Inc., was created and opened the doors of its facility in Saint John, New Brunswick. Shawmut Equipment also now serves customers in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. Demand for sales and service in Canada has been growing at a steady rate, requiring another location to better serve customers. A new facility is in the process of being built in Elmsdale, Nova Scotia. This location will serve as the headquarters for the Maritime provinces of Canada and will increase access to a larger geographic area and more remote jobsite locations. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE