March 28, 2018

CT Construction Digest March 28, 2018

Two Options Emerge For New Train, Bus Stations In Downtown Hartford

 Two options emerged Tuesday for relocating downtown Hartford’s train and bus stations — both of them north of Asylum Avenue — as part of the massive, I-84 reconstruction project planned for the city.
Both options involve the stretch of land west of Union Station extending to the corporate offices of The Hartford Financial Services Group.
The options locate the train station just to the west of the new highway, which would be lowered in the reconstruction. But the options differ on the placement of a combined bus station and parking garage. One places it just to the west of the lowered highway, while the other locates it above the highway. The state Department of Transportation and the city of Hartford Tuesday recommended the option that did not include building above the highway. The option, they said, would be less expensive and does not raise potential concerns for security. Construction of the train, bus and parking venues also could get going earlier in the reconstruction project.
Aaron Gill, chairman of the Frog Hollow Neighborhood Revitalization Zone, said it is unlikely that a private developer would tackle such a project in a city the size of Hartford.
“If the DOT doesn’t construct over that space, it is wasted,” Gill said. “Nothing is going to go there. Where the land immediately adjacent to it, that’s in the heart of downtown, what will now be next to a great transportation hub, it is going to be very valuable land.”
Rich Armstrong, the DOT’s principal engineer overseeing the I-84 project, said after the meeting that “some very valuable points were brought up, but I am very concerned about the costs.”
The option recommended by the state and city is now estimated to cost $120 million but that could rise. The DOT will now calculate the potential cost of building over the highway and report back to the committee.
The new train and bus stations are needed because plans for lowering I-84 to slightly below grade requires shifting it to the west. Such a dramatic change requires moving the path of the train tracks to the west of the lowered highway. A new use would be found for the historic Union Station, built in 1889.
The transportation center is part of a sweeping plan to lower a 2-mile stretch of the aging, I-84 elevated highway as it passes through the city. The plan also has the potential to dramatically reshape the area around the 129-year-old train station and west of Bushnell Park, now a desolate jumble of concrete highway support columns and ramps.
The entire I-84 project is expected to cost between $4.3 billion and $5.3 billion and would be paid for by a combination of state and federal funding.
The future of the project is still far from certain because funding must be secured. If funding comes to fruition, construction could begin in the early to mid-2020s, Armstrong said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Widening of Rt. 34 and Derby-Milford Road starts this weekend

DERBY — Construction to widen the road at the intersection of Route 34 and Derby-Milford Road, which has been the scene of numerous rear-end crashes over the years, is slated to get underway after April 1, likely next week.
The project has been in the design phase for the past few years, and several public hearings have since taken place to discuss the operational improvements to the roadway.
DOT spokesperson Kevin Nursick said improvements consist of widening Derby-Milford Road (near Greco & Haines) to accommodate a three-lane approach to Route 34, a two-lane approach from Sentinel Hill Road and construction of an exclusive right-turn lane from Route 34 to Derby-Milford Road.
The improvements, according to Nursick, are geared to reduce congestion and improve the overall operation and safety of the busy intersection. A minor retaining wall will also be built for roadway support on the southeastern side of the intersection.
Other improvements included in the project are modifying the turn radius for right turning vehicles from Route 34 onto Derby-Milford Road, signal improvements at the intersection to accommodate the two new left turn lanes on Derby-Milford Road, replacing the existing guiderail on Derby-Milford Road to meet current standards and possible removal of some vegetation to improve sight lines at the intersection, according to Nursick.
The state DOT awarded the project to NJR Construction, LLC, of Torrington, earlier this month in the amount of $1.8 million. The project is being funded 80/20 with federal and state funding, and is slated to be completed by November 30.
Mayor Richard Dziekan said Tuesday the project is a welcome addition to the congested and accident-prone intersection.
“First and foremost, it allows for a safer passage through town and into the gateway to New Haven and Milford and all points east,” said Dziekan. “As a former accident reconstructionist and knowing that the area is a weak zone, it will markedly improve the aesthetics and service which are always relevant and gratifying to the public. The improvements to Route 34 will be a welcome enhancement to future business owners looking for a positive location with limitless access for their customer base.”
DOT said motorists should be aware of the following lane closures during the construction period:
Route 34: During the allowable periods, the contractor shall maintain and protect a minimum of one lane of traffic in each direction not less than 11 feet. For turn lanes, 10 feet shall be maintained for a minimum of 150 feet.
Derby-Milford Road and Sentinel Hill Road: During the allowable periods, the contractor shall maintain and protect at least an alternating one-way traffic operation, not less than 12 feet in width. The length of alternating traffic operation shall not exceed 300 feet.
The contractor shall maintain access to and egress from all commercial and residential driveways throughout the project limits.

Stamford bridge project to shut Atlantic Street next year

By Angela Carella
STAMFORD — Beginning next February, a key portion of Atlantic Street will be closed for six months, creating traffic chaos in one of the busiest spots in the city.
The state Department of Transportation is replacing the old railroad bridge that passes over Atlantic Street near South State Street, a choke point for motorists headed to and from the train station, Interstate 95, the downtown, the South End and Shippan.
From February to June 2019, Atlantic Street will be shut down at the railroad bridge, said Judd Everhart, spokesman for the DOT.
Motorists will be directed to a changing series of detours through a congested area that includes Henry Street, Dock Street, Canal Street, Guernsey Avenue, North State Street, South State Street and lower Washington Boulevard.
Between June and September 2019, the Atlantic Street closure will be extended just beyond the bridge to the north and the south, Everhart said. A portion of South State Street also will be closed.
The area will be least accessible for the nine days between the weekend preceding the July 4, 2019 holiday, which falls on a Thursday, and the following weekend, Everhart said. During that time, the new bridge, which will be prefabricated, will be wheeled in and installed in portions as the old one is demolished.
The method, Accelerated Bridge Construction, allows for replacement in a fraction of the time required using traditional methods, according to the DOT’s consulting engineers.
Another element of the project has already eased traffic near the old railroad bridge, said James Travers, chief of the Stamford Transportation Bureau. In the first phase, which started in 2016, the DOT reconstructed the exit 8 northbound ramp of I-95 so it crosses over Atlantic Street and no longer dumps traffic at the bridge.
“Now traffic is coming off exit 8 and going on South State Street but missing Atlantic Street,” Travers said. “If the plan were to have been to do this with the old exit 8 ramp in place, things would be worse. But we are seeing a significant reduction in traffic in the Atlantic Street corridor since the relocation of the ramp. That being said, any time you take a road out of commission, it will create a level of confusion.”
Easier access
The ramp work — which includes widening the intersection of South State and Canal streets to five lanes — is set to be finished in June, just in time for the bridge work to accelerate, said Kevin Conroy, an engineer with Haks Engineering, the company managing the bridge replacement for the DOT. Conroy ran a public-information meeting last Thursday at the Stamford Government Center, but no one from the public attended except a representative of the Downtown Special Services District. More meetings will be scheduled in the coming months, Conroy said.
The bridge portion of the project will include widening Atlantic Street to three lanes in each direction, and lowering it to allow the standard clearance of 14 feet, 6 inches under the railroad bridge, Conroy said. As it is, many trucks cannot pass beneath it.
After the bridge foundations are rebuilt and infrastructure work is complete, the new bridge, which will be constructed off-site, will be delivered in six pieces, Conroy said. Each piece has two railroad tracks, he said.
Crews will work 24/7 during the week of July 4, 2019, a time chosen by Metro-North Railroad officials because train ridership is low, said Brett Stark, project manager and principal with BL Companies, a Hartford firm acting as a DOT consultant on the project.
Track added
At the train station, a dedicated track will be added to the branch line that serves the stations at Glenbrook, Springdale, New Canaan and Danbury. The local train now has to share a track with trains running between New York and New Haven, Stark said.
“That track will be freed up to handle just through-traffic,” he said.
The track work will begin after the new bridge is installed and will not affect road traffic.
The bridge work, which will begin this summer, will take more than a year to complete, but it would have taken five or six years using traditional methods, Stark said.
Besides that, the contractor, Halmar International of New York, will be motivated to keep to the schedule, he said.
 “If the contractor is able to get Atlantic Street open sooner, he can earn incentive payments from the state,” Stark said. “And there are heavy penalties if he fails to open it on time.”
Historic stone
City officials ensured a historic element of the old railroad bridge will be preserved. It was built with Portland brownstones from a quarry in upstate Connecticut that was known for its quality. The brownstones were used in landmark buildings in New York, Boston, Chicago and other cities in the late 1800s.
Before the project began, the Board of Representatives passed a resolution saying the brownstones must be returned to the city to be used for “public projects and beautification around Stamford.”
The projects to improve the exit 8 ramp and replace the railroad bridge are expected to cost a total of $100 million to $120 million. They are entirely state funded, Everhart said. Everything should be complete by summer 2020.
For motorists, the learning curve begins next February, when Atlantic Street closes, Travers said.
 “The most challenging time is when it first gets closed,” he said. “After that, people will begin to understand which way to go.”