August 9, 2018

CT Construction Digest Tursday August 9,2018

Torrington approves $54.2 million bid for sewer plant upgrade

TORRINGTON — The Water Pollution Control Authority this week approved a bid of more than $54.2 million by local contractor C.H. Nickerson for the city’s sewer plant upgrade.
It was the second round of bidding for the project, after the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection rejected an approved contract from the city because it had missed a filing deadline in March.The original deadline for the second round of bidding was June 19. It was then extended, at a contractor’s request, to July 10.
Nickerson was the only bidder in the first round, and the second round attracted just one more bidder, Walsh Construction Co., which is based in Chicago and Atlanta. Walsh bid nearly $69 million.
 Mayor Elinor Carbone said despite the delay in approving a contract, the results are what matter.
“Nickerson is the foremost expert on water treatment plants. I’m pleased it’s them,” she said. “It’s also a local company, and we like to support them.”
The results of the second bidding process showed that it didn’t discourage contractors from submitting contracts, Carbone said.
“It picked up in the second round,” she said. “More contractors looked at the bidding documents, but only two followed through.”
Ray Drew, the water authority’s administrator, said the winning bid was $4.5 million less than the initial bid in the spring. He said the lower cost is based on several factors, including that Nickerson had more time to compile their documents and they “did significantly more site visits.”
“We’re extremely happy with the bid amount.” he said.The timeline for construction is now October, Drew said. The start date was initially expected to be late August or early September.
Starting construction just a few months before the winter season won’t be a concern, Drew said. “They work year round.”The most expensive item in the upgrade is the tertiary building, Drew said. It’s listed in the bidding documents at a cost of $1.3 million. The 26,000 square-foot, three-story building will contain a number of processing systems, he said.
The processing systems will allow the city to meet a state mandate to a decrease in nitrogen and phosphorus in the plant’s treated waste water that’s released into the Naugatuck River.
A reduction in those two chemicals, which primarily come from sewer treatment plants, will support environmental efforts to reduce the effects of low oxygen levels in Long Island Sound. The low oxygen levels are called hypoxia.
The condition causes dead zones, which kills fish and shellfish, DEEP studies have shown.
 The city’s treatment plant routinely meets the state’s general permit requirements for a decrease in nitrogen, Drew said in an earlier interview. But in order to meet the state’s long-range goals, the amount of nitrogen allowed to be released from treatment plants will decrease each year. To reduce nitrogen, Drew said a chemical conversion must take place that changes nitrates to nitrites to nitrogen gas, which is then released into the air.
The water authority participates in a nitrogen reduction program that allows municipalities with low amounts of released nitrogen to sell credits to the Nitrogen Credit Exchange program. Municipalities that don’t meet the requirements can buy credits from the exchange. Drew said Torrington has received $523,000 since 2002 for selling those credits.
This upgrade allows the city to receive 25 percent of the project’s total cost from the state’s Clean Water Fund. In September, the City Council voted to issue bonds for $20.3 million to supplement the $51 million borrowed in 2014.
Planning for the major upgrade began in 2002, Drew said, with design proposals beginning in 2012.
“I’m excited to get started,” he said.

Major historic find at Walk Bridge site includes Indian fort, thousands of artifacts

NORWALK — A historic — and historically illuminating — discovery has been made in East Norwalk with the uncovering of the remnants of a contact-period Native American fort.
Several thousand artifacts — some thought to be more than 3,000 years old — have also been uncovered at Walk Bridge construction site, including arrowheads, wampum (or traditional shell beads), European flints and iron trade tools, which may shed light on what life was like for Native Americans and Europeans when they first met.
 “The contact period is a period of really a few short decades when both Old World and New Wold came together and changed dramatically — both groups,” said Ernest Wiegand, a professor or archaeology at Norwalk Community College
Such sites are extremely rare — most of them have been destroyed by development, erosion and the actions of vandals and looters. Wiegand said the only Fairfield County site from the period he had known of previously was a temporary encampment where hunters may have spent a couple of days.
“Now we have a village,” he said. “This is an absolutely thrilling, thrilling discovery.”The archaeological survey that led to the discovery was part of an agreement made by the state Department of Transportation to mitigate the effects of replacing the Walk Bridge. The bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and when such places are demolished, the National Historic Preservation Act requires steps be taken to lessen the historic loss.
The DOT plans to release more information Thursday afternoon.
Tod Bryant, president of the Norwalk Historic Preservation Trust, said the law created an opportunity for the historical community to finally investigate whether anything remained of the ancient Native American fort.
 “This is a site that has been marked on maps since 1847,” he said. “So we saw an opportunity with the bridge property to have professionals look at it and see if there’s anything there. And as it turns out, there’s a significant part of it there.”
The Department of Transportation asked that the exact location of the excavation not be revealed to prevent the curious from disturbing the site. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Yankee Doodle Bridge rehab begins Aug. 15

NORWALK — The $15 million Yankee Doodle Bridge rehabilitation on Interstate 95 is to begin within the next two weeks.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation issued a press release this week announcing that construction would begin on or around Aug. 16.
The bridge’s steel, substructure and deck will be repaired and roadway lights will be replaced. The bridge parapet will be replaced, fencing will be installed to protect pedestrians and a median barrier will be erected. Improvements will be made to the bridge’s drainage and storm water management systems.
Plainville-based construction firm Manafort Brothers will complete the work, which is scheduled to wrap by Nov. 23, according to the DOT.
The construction will disrupt traffic in the already congested stretch of Interstate 95. Lanes will be closed northbound 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Thursday into Friday, 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Friday into Saturday and 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday into Sunday.
Lanes will be closed southbound 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. Friday into Saturday and 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. Saturday into Sunday.
SOUTHINGTON — Town officials released bid requests earlier this month for a $57 million upgrade to the water treatment plant.
New state requirements to remove phosphorous from water discharged into rivers prompted the upgrade, which engineering officials say will also modernize equipment, move a portion of the plant out of the Quinnipiac River’s 100-year flood zone and eliminate odor problems.
“We’re thrilled that we’re going to be able to go forward with this. We’re just looking forward to seeing what the bids look like,” said David Zoni, chairman of the town’s sewer committee. “It’s going to be a big change for the treatment plant.”
Voters approved $57 million for the project at a referendum in 2016. Construction costs will be a portion of that with the remainder consisting of engineering costs and inspections.
Public Works Director Keith Hayden said the state will reimburse about $17 million of the project’s total cost.
State and federal officials consider phosphorus an environmental hazard because it causes algal bloom, which depletes oxygen in water bodies and poses a threat to wildlife.
Hayden said town leaders settled on a process whereby a coagulant is added to water at the treatment plant. Phosphorous in the water starts to clump “like oatmeal” with portions of steel added to the mixture, sinking the phosphorous which is then removed.
“It’s a new technology, we did a lot of research,” Hayden said. “The operators that have used it highly recommended it.”
The oldest portions of the plant are from 1958. Newer machinery will operate more efficiently, saving energy costs according to Hayden.
The plant operates at half capacity, allowing the planned upgrades to take place on one half of the plant and vice versa. There’s no projected need for more capacity, Hayden said.
Before water is discharged into the Quinnipiac River, it’s subjected to ultraviolet light to kill bacteria and germs. The structure in which that process takes place will be moved farther from the river to prevent it from being submerged in the event of major flooding.
The first three stages of the water treatment process will be done in an enclosed structure. Zoni said that should eliminate odor problems that have plagued neighbors of the plant on Maxwell Noble Drive.
Bids for construction will be opened Sept. 6. Hayden was encouraged by good quotes for other wastewater treatment plant projects.
Zoni said he was glad the plant would be able to operate in a more environmentally-friendly way, but was concerned about piecemeal regulations from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state. Nearly a decade ago the town added a nitrogen removal process to the plant as a result of new regulations.
“What else are they going to find that they’re going to need us to eliminate?” Zoni said.

Roadwork planned on Route 5 in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — Drivers on Route 5 can expect overnight lane closures for road resurfacing starting later this month.
State Department of Transportation crews are slated to work between 7 p.m. Sundays and 5 a.m. Fridays from Aug. 19 through Sept. 11 on a three-mile section of Route 5 between North Street and the Meriden town line.
DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said Tuesday the milling and paving project is essential maintenance-level work.
“As old asphalt wears out, you have to replace it,” he said.
Milling has already started, he said, and will continue until Aug. 17. No work will occur Labor Day weekend between Aug. 31 and Sept. 3.

Port authority to unveil maritime strategy for state

New London — Increasing use and profitability of State Pier is the top priority of a maritime strategy for the state that the Connecticut Port Authority is unveiling Thursday morning.
The Day received an advance copy of the strategy, which the port authority will formally announce at a 10 a.m. news conference in Hartford. It details much of what the port authority already is doing or talked about doing, such as increasing the volume of cargo coming in to the state's deep-water ports in New London, Bridgeport and New Haven, which handled over 2.2 million metric tons of goods in 2017, and investing in smaller harbor improvement projects.
New London's State Pier facility is a revenue generator for the port authority, which through ownership of the facility gets 6.75 percent of the assessable revenue generated from New London's port. That's amounted to about $500,000 in recent years. The state appropriated $400,000 in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 for the port authority. In five years, Scott Bates, chairman of the port authority's board, hopes the quasi-public agency no longer will need annual funding from the state.
The port authority is seeking a port operator for State Pier, and is evaluating responses to its request for proposals based on which would lead to the highest and best use of the facility. It has extended the date to reply to the RFP from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31 due to "strong interest from multiple sectors" said Bates, with an announcement of the winner expected in mid-September. The port authority is prepared to put a lot of money into State Pier but wants to maximize that with investment by the next port operator.
Logistec, which has run pier operations for the last two decades, is among those bidding to be port operator. Its current operating lease ends Jan. 31, 2019.
The City of New London is seeking to capitalize on the expected uptick in activity and investment at State Pier, which also is expected to host a range of activities related to the burgeoning offshore wind industry. Mayor Michael Passero is eyeing the nearby 15-acre Crystal Avenue property, which is positioned in the middle of an industrial zone, as land that could be developed to support port operations. A process is underway for the New London Housing Authority, which owns the Crystal Avenue property, to sell it to the city, which then will explore selling or leasing the site to an outside entity.
"This is a choice for the city. It's the city's land," Bates said of the property. "The city needs to find what it wants to do on this but we're ready to be a real partner, and we have resources to bring to bear."
Established by law in 2014, it took the port authority until February 2016 to become fully operational. The quasi-public agency is charged with being a maritime adviser to the governor and coming up with maritime strategy for the state, which is being unveiled Thursday and maps out what the port authority wants to do in the next five years, Bates said.
The strategy outlines that the port authority will continue to support dredging projects throughout the state. It soon will go to the State Bond Commission with a $5 million request to dredge around State Pier, Bates said.
It also lists leveraging emerging opportunities, such as making New London's port a hub for offshore wind components, and bringing in more cruise ships to Pier 7 at Fort Trumbull. The bond commission recently approved $250,000 for the port authority to do planning and design work related to planned upgrades to the pier to ensure military ships still can dock there. City Pier is limited in the ships that can dock there due to length of the pier and depth of the berth.
Another part of the strategy is exploring the possibility of moving more cargo by rail, and coastal shipping — transporting cargo that is unloaded from large container ships in New York, which is "jammed up," onto smaller vessels that could travel the coast to ports like New London, Bates said, to help reduce congestion on the roads.

State Water Quality Agency To Report Aug. 24 On Tilcon's Plainville Plan

A key state agency plans to issue its opinion on the controversial Tilcon Connecticut gravel quarry expansion later this month.
The water planning council will meet Aug. 24 to complete its recommendations on whether Connecticut should exempt the company from laws that protect environmentally sensitive land near public water supplies. Tilcon’s proposal to mine gravel from New Britain-owned watershed bordering its Plainville quarry has become a statewide controversy. Environmental groups are warning that a decision in the company’s favor could jeopardize watershed across the state, but the head of New Britain’s water utility says Tilcon would ultimately expand drinking water supplies for central Connecticut. When the water planning council convened Tuesday, it heard Southington’s water utility object to the proposal.
Granting Tilcon’s request “will have significant adverse impacts on the Southington Water Department and its ability to serve its existing and future customers,” according to a letter from Thomas J. Murphy, the utility’s president, to the council.
The council must issue a recommendation to the General Assembly by the end of the month. On Tuesday, its members agreed to meet Aug. 24 to finish the report. Legislators are not bound by the findings, but will review them before any vote on Tilcon’s request.
Tilcon wants to expand its Plainville gravel quarry by about 75 acres, and seeks an exemption from the state laws that forbid development of environmentally fragile land near public water supplies. The expansion acreage — woodlands owned by New Britain’s water department — is within the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir watershed.
The company would lease the land for 40 years, a deal potentially worth $15 million, to mine gravel for road construction. Tilcon would return the land to be used as a reservoir, and promises to donate nearly 300 acres of undamaged woodlands to New Britain, Southington and Plainville.
Ray Esponda, head of the New Britain Water Department, has said environmental risks have been overstated, and that the quarry expansion could be done without harming water quality. He has said Tilcon’s offer of a 2.3 billion gallon reservoir would improve the city’s water storage capacity by nearly half, creating a hedge for the entire region against sustained droughts or climate change.But environmentalists say the reservoir discussion is just a smokescreen to draw attention away from the proposed destruction of more than 70 acres of pristine woodlands near a public drinking water supply.
“It’s private profit at the expense of the public,” John Sokolowski of Southington said in June at a hearing on the proposal. “We do not want to drink out of an industrial puddle.”
State lawmakers will not take up the matter until the 2019 legislative session at soonest.