Bridge Projects Still In Works Despite Funding Cuts
Despite tight purse strings in a budget year when many towns have postponed capital improvement projects due to state funding cuts, Griswold is looking to replace two bridges simultaneously this year.
A now-closed bridge on Sheldon Road and another on Norman Road are scheduled to be replaced this calendar year, through funding from the Department of Transportation's Federal Local Bridge Pilot Program, which is administered by the State of Connecticut.
Costs for construction of the projects will be divided, with the town financing 20 percent of the cost and the federal Department of Transportation picking up the remainder of the tab. The DOT grant will cover 100 percent of the design costs."This is the first project that the DOT has done with two bridges together. They're trying to see how much savings they can have," said First Selectman Todd Babbitt, who also serves as the town's public works director. "The state's very interested in that also. Potentially, they could both be done in one construction season." Officials from the DOT estimate that replacing the Norman Road bridge will cost $1.8 million and the Sheldon Road bridge will cost $1.6 million.
Plans for the project are scheduled to go before the town's Inland Wetlands Commission, and a contractor selected by a bidding process will be hired to complete the projects under joint supervision by the town and the DOT, he said. It's expected that designing and building the two projects simultaneously will result in cost savings.
The Sheldon Road bridge was closed abruptly in early February 2016, after a bridge inspection revealed severe erosion to its foundation following winter storms and flooding the previous fall. A drawdown of Glasgo Pond, for repairs to its dam, had left the bridge's original stone and wood foundation exposed to the elements, and heavy rains washed away much of the foundation's support.
A repair project on the Sheldon Road bridge back in 1990 served merely to replace the deck, but did nothing to shore up the structure's supports. The Norman Road bridge remains open to traffic and should remain passable throughout the duration of the project, said Babbitt.
Town officials welcome the DOT grant funds to complete the project, at a time when state funds for many municipal projects have dried up. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
New Town Council Members Hear Power Plant Presentation
The Killingly Town Council held a special meeting, on Jan. 2, to hear a presentation on a proposed power plant to be built on Lake Road.
The Killingly Energy Center would be a 550 MW natural gas-fired electric generating facility, capable of providing power to 400,000 to 500,000 homes. NTE Connecticut Vice President Tim Eves went through a series of slides, for the benefit of new members recently elected to the council.
The meeting gave council members a chance to ask questions before negotiating a tax stabilization agreement and Community Environmental Benefit Agreement with NTE.
Town Manager Sean Hendricks has been working on the plans for 18 months. The Town Council had been involved in the process for 11 months. They deferred the decision until after the November 2017 election, to give new council members a chance to review the agreements.
NTE has proposed a tax stabilization agreement that would give the town $91 million dollars over 23 years. A $5 million CEBA agreement would include two payments of $2 million each and 20 annual payments of $48,500. NTE would create a Bridge of Flowers over the Five Mile River. Twenty acres on the north side of the site would be put in permanent conservation easement. A decommissioning bond would be put in place for the life of the facility.Questions were raised about modifications made to the presentation. NTE estimates peak work force during construction could be 450, rather than 250, construction workers. Eves was asked how that might impact traffic studies already done using earlier numbers.
NTE has decided to purchase a Mitsubishi engine, rather than a Siemens engine, for the plant. Eves said the Mitsubishi machine was more efficient, would produce fewer emissions, and would allow a reconfiguration of the plant site - which would benefit an adjacent wetlands.
Council members asked questions about the plant's water requirements, agreements negotiated between NTE and property owners who live next to the plant, possible traffic impacts should the plant be required to run on Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel during a natural gas shutdown, and proposed infrastructure improvements.
"We got boards and commissions and groups together and got limitations and conditions that we wanted to see, but in the end, we have no control over whether this plant lands here," Hendricks said. "Citizen protests won't matter. The Town Council won't matter. These agreements are what we can control."A TSA would give the town a reliable stream of revenue, while establishing stable costs for NTE. If NTE makes it through the Forward Capacity Auction on Feb. 5, it will be obligated to provide power to the grid in three years.
"I want the tax stabilization done," Hendricks said. "NTE wants it done. Our bargaining position is strong pre-auction."
The council will meet in executive session to iron out details for Hendricks to bring back to NTE. They hope to have the TSA and CEBA completed before Feb. 5.
Big vision for New Haven’s Long Wharf area
NEW HAVEN — A big-picture vision for the Long Wharf area could be five or six “districts” expanding the current industrial, health care, food, entertainment and maritime features, all woven together by waterways and walkable streets.
It is the first very preliminary sketch of a strategic plan for Long Wharf by Perkins Eastman, planners who have done this type of thing before in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and internationally.
The principals, Eric Fang and Stan Eckstut, addressed about 70 people at the Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School in the Hill Tuesday, drawing residents from that neighborhood and nearby Wooster Square, as well as many alders eager to hear their thoughts on improving these 400 acres important to the city’s economy and its history.
Only 1.5 miles from end to end, Fang spoke of four rather distinct sections that start with the area around Jordan’s Furniture, followed by Assa Abloy, the food terminal and Ikea that could be home to complementary businesses with the fifth section in the area of the Maritime Center and Sports Haven.
“Stan and I haven’t seen anything quite like this. The opportunities are tremendous. We just have to figure out how to re-jigger them,” Fang said of the mix of transportation assets and businesses that have grown organically.
In terms of neighborhoods, Long Wharf came together only 60 years ago under Mayor Richard C. Lee, much of it reclaimed wetlands that allowed the interstate highway to come in to what was envisioned as an industrial park.
“It’s a baby-boomer of a district,” Fang said of that demographic going through its own adjustments, as the Long Wharf area will be, although the importance of the Long Wharf area dates back centuries.
The original Long Wharf led settlers to the nine squares, where the downtown was founded with the Green as the center. “This district ... is foundational to the city itself,” Fang said.
Filling in what was part of the harbor is the genesis for much of the water problems, with Mother Nature trying to revert to its original state, Fang said. This brought them to discuss the idea of waterways and landscaping that would surround and tie the districts together and deal with the stormwater. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
New Hampshire Group Finishes Northern Pass Project Hearings
CONCORD (AP) New Hampshire regulators completed their hearings on the Northern Pass project and planned to start their deliberations in December.
In April, hearings before the state Site Evaluation Committee began on the $1.6 billion plan to bring hydropower from Canada to southern New England markets. More than 120 witnesses testified over an eight-month period.
The project seeks to run a 192-mi. transmission line from Pittsburg to Deerfield, carrying enough hydropower to power about a million homes. Hearings were completed Dec. 21.
The committee's scheduled to start 12 days of public deliberations on Jan. 30, leading to an oral decision on Feb. 23. A final, written, decision is due by March 31.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the province of Quebec on Dec. 21 granted Hydro-Quebec a permit to construct the hydroelectric transmission line to connect with Northern Pass at the U.S. border.
Eric Martel, president and CEO of Hydro-Quebec, said the permit approval “marks a major milestone, adding one more key authorization to those that have already been granted on both sides of the border.”
The U.S. Department of Energy granted a permit for the project in November. Northern Pass also has formal contracts with suppliers and a labor agreement with construction managers and unions. It hopes to start construction in the spring of 2018.
The project has pitted supporters who argue it will create jobs and cut energy costs against those who fear the transmission lines will destroy scenic views, reduce property values and hurt tourism.