June 11, 2018

CT Construction Digest Monday June 11, 2018

Oz Griebel Pledges To Establish Tolls, Bring Back Transportation Strategy Board

If elected governor in November, independent candidate Oz Griebel said among his first actions would be to bring back the state’s transportation strategy board and establish an electronic tolling system on I-84, I-91 and I-95 within three years.
The re-establishment of the transportation strategy board would go hand in hand with Griebel’s plan to create 200,000 jobs by 2028, he said.
“One of the things that’s key to job growth, job retention, is a modern transportation system,” said Griebel, a longtime business executive.
Griebel was the chairman of the transportation board in its early years, when it was formed under former governor John Rowland. The board was eliminated in 2011 under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The board had five commissioners from five major state agencies including the Department of Transportation and the Office of Policy and Management as well as nearly a dozen private sector individuals who were appointed by the governor and legislators, Griebel said.
“The concept was to develop a comprehensive, multi-mobile transportation strategy within one year and to agree on the funding resources,” Griebel said.
The key, Griebel says, is engaging the private sector on major policy issues.
“If employers don’t believe what we’re doing in state government either from a budgetary or policy standpoint their confidence … is dramatically reduced,” he said.
Griebel also pledged to establish an electronic tolling system on I-84, I-91 and I-95 within three years.
As part of the effort, a pilot would be established by July 1, 2019 on the I-84 high occupancy vehicle lanes — special lanes set aside for drivers with passengers — in and out of Hartford.
The pilot would provide valuable information on the amount of tolls necessary on the three interstates, Griebel said. Drivers without passengers could pay the toll to use the passenger lane, he said.
In addition to tolling, Griebel said the transportation board would focus on linkage to New York for commuters and to strengthen the ability to recruit employees in the five boroughs, Long Island and Westchester County.
Griebel said other objectives of the board would include reducing Metro-North travel time between New Haven, Bridgeport, Stamford and New York and launching barge service to move containers from the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey to the Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London ports to reduce congestion and pollution along the I-95 corridor.
Griebel, whose running mate is Newtown attorney Monte Frank, has to collect 7,500 signatures to get on the ballot in November.

UConn's engineering, science bldg. bows Mon

UConn will formally dedicate its new Engineering & Science Building in Storrs on Monday.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will join UConn President Susan Herbst and others for a 2 p.m. ceremony at the building at 67 N. Eagleville Road in Storrs.
The $95 million, state-of-the-art facility was built as part of the state flagship university's Next Generation Connecticut initiative.
The five-story edifice houses classrooms, faculty-staff offices and high-tech labs, including the Institute for Systems Genomics.

DOT to improve conditions to ‘Snake Hill Road’ in Branford

BRANFORD — The Connecticut Department of Transportation has begun a project to finally improve road conditions on the aptly dubbed Snake Hill Road.
The DOT said the project consists of realigning the long and winding road, which starts as Brushy Plains Road in Branford and continues as Totoket Road in North Branford after crossing the town line. “So basically the existing conditions out there, horizontally and vertically, are substandard conditions. The grades (slopes) are very steep. The sight line and the radius (half the length) of those curves are narrower than we’d like to see based on our design standards,” said DOT Project Engineer Matthew Bishop. “This project realigns (the road) and takes it from four sharp, substandard curves to two more forgiving curves.”
Bishop said instead of “that really sharp kind of switchback,” which is somewhat like a steep spiraling staircase, the road will be reconfigured to more of a bell-shaped curve that diverges from Brushy Plains Road at the first curve before linking back to the existing road at the final curve.
“This project realigns (the road) and takes it from four sharp, substandard curves to two more forgiving curves,” Bishop said, which will improve the safety of motorists in the area.Andy Barth, who has lived on Brushy Plains Road for about a year, said he mostly experiences difficulty driving during the winter, especially after the plows have pushed the snow to the side of the road. He said even if the roads weren’t narrower than usual in the winter — and they’re pretty narrow to begin with — he wouldn’t drive down Snake Hill Road due to the steepness of the current road conditions. “I wouldn’t go down that hill. If you lose traction, you’re done,” Barth said.
He said he remembers one particularly bad accident in the time he’s lived there where a man raced up the curving road and his car ended up flipping over. He said even motorcycles whip through the twists and turns of the steep hill, paying little attention to the posted speed limit due to the lack of patrol cars due to the limited space available.Along with the narrow road, the street doesn’t currently have sidewalks, just a mere 6 inches in some places between the solid white line and the curb. “There’s hardly any room there now,” Barth said.
  For Kristin Jaconette, the road conditions don’t really phase her, after having lived in the same house since she was 6.“I know there are people who are terrified of Snakehill. Terrified, but it’s just a hill. That’s all there is to it,” she said.Despite her ease in navigating the road, Jaconette said she thinks the improvements will still be beneficial to other drivers. “They’ll get rid of the pitch on the hill. Hopefully, slow the role of traffic, as far as speed,” she said.
Bishop said for the most part traffic won’t be affected, with two-lane traffic proceeding as usual. However, during stage construction, an alternating one-way traffic pattern will be maintained with temporary signalization Lane closures will be implemented at various times, prevalently throughout the week, but no closures are anticipated during the winter shutdown period before construction resumes in April 2019. Traffic may be halted up to 10 minutes during blasting activities, according to the DOT.
The reconstruction was initially postponed in 2009 due to a delay in funding from the state and acquisition of properties for the right-of-way. In the meantime, the road was repaved. The DOT said the project is scheduled to be completed April 29, 2020.