December 6, 2018

CT Construction Digest December 6, 2018

Bethel’s $10 million track and field center approved

BETHEL — The plan to build a track and field center at the high school will go ahead.The Board of Selectmen approved Tuesday night the lease and agreement from the donor who has pledged $10 million for the new facility.
Superintendent Christine Carver expects the 48,000-square-foot center will be used every day, even on weekends, by students in physical education class, athletes and the public. “It’s going to be an amazing opportunity,” she said.
The students who will see the biggest benefit are the athletes on the indoor track and field team, she said. This team normally fights for practice space in the gym or other area facilities.
“Currently, there is a lot of competition for space and this will just open up a lot of opportunities for alleviating some of that,” Carver said.
The center includes a 200-meter track on the second floor, as well as workout equipment and offices.
On the first floor, there will be long jump pits, two pole vaults, a high jump, 50-meter sprint track and space for shot put. Bathrooms and storage for the track and field, cheerleading, wrestling and ROTC programs will also be on the first floor.
The facility will be built next to the tennis courts on the high school’s campus.
Carver said the district has not worked out scheduling at the center, but said the public would be allowed to use it. “There is also going to be opportunity for community use, especially with the indoor track,” she said.
The selectmen unanimously approved the lease agreement with the donor, who is renting the land for a $1 a year during construction. The agreement is for two years, but can be ended early or extended a year depending on when the project is complete. Ownership of the building would then pass back to the town.The construction company expects the center will open in mid-November of next year.
Selectman Paul Szatkowski said he is thrilled about the facility “It’s certainly going to be an asset to the town of Bethel,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Eversource Energy reaches new contract with two Connecticut unions
Luther Turmelle
HARTFORD — Eversource Energy has reached a new four-year labor agreement with two union locals representing its natural gas workers in Connecticut, company officials said Tuesday. Members of Locals 420 and 457 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have already ratified the new contract, according to Eversource officials. There are 280 unionized workers from two IBEW locals who will be covered by the contract, Mitch Gross, a company spokesman, said Tuesday.Negotiators with the company reached a tentative agreement on Nov. 21, according to Gross. The union members ratified the agreement on Nov. 30, he said, the same day that the previous contract was scheduled to expire.
Chris Hall, Eversource’s vice president of Employee & Labor Relations said the new contract recognizes “our employees’ dedication and skill in providing safe and reliable gas service to our customers everyday − no matter what the emergency is or what the conditions are.”
“This contract ... provides stability for these employees and their families, while customers continue benefiting from this top-tier team of natural gas technicians working to ensure they have safe and reliable gas service every day,” Hall said in a written statement.
Joseph Malcarne, business manager of IBEW Local 420, said the new contract “new contract shows these hard-working sisters and brothers that they are valued and needed.”
“The contract allows, at a minimum, 20 new safe, good paying jobs for the people in Connecticut, in the next two years,” Malcarne said. “Customers can feel confident in the gas system they rely on thanks in part to our committed members who will continue working on it every day.”
The new contract’s other key provisions include: Increasing employee safety-related training allowances. Annual wage increases of 3.25 percent for the first year and 3.00 percent per year for the remaining three years of the four-year contract. Creating afternoon and evening shifts to support 24-hour coverage in the utility’s meter services department Adjusting overtime premium enhancements to improve employee productivity.
The union locals represent more than 1,500 Eversource workers in a variety of job types, including gas technicians, electric line workers, technicians and mechanics, working throughout the company’s territory in Connecticut.
The company provides natural gas to 232,000 customers in 73 communities. In addition to its natural gas customers, Eversource delivers electricity to 1.2 million customers in 149 Connecticut communities and supplies water to approximately 197,000 customers in 51 communities across the state.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series of stories exploring the latest numbers from the Census Bureau’s 2013-17 American Community Survey.
Commutes are getting longer and more Connecticut drivers are spending at least an hour to get to work — particularly in Fairfield County — new data from the U.S. Census Bureau show.
The average commuter in the U.S. spent 26.4 minutes traveling to work, according to census data covering a five-year period from 2013 to 2017. That’s an increase of one minute, from 25.4 minutes over the previous five-year period that ended in 2012.
Connecticut commutes are a bit shorter than the national average. The in-state travel time increased from 24.8 to 26 minutes. But in some parts of Connecticut, commutes are much longer than the state and national average.
The Census Bureau’s 2013-17 American Community Survey, released Thursday, covers a sweeping range of subject matter, using five years of data. The five-year survey can be compared to data sets with non-overlapping years, so in this case, we can compare the 2013-17 results to the 2008-2012 results.
When it comes to commuting, the survey makes clear there is a gender gap. Connecticut men have longer commutes, 28 minutes, compared with 24 minutes for women. Men are also more likely to use public transportation. Those patterns were true in 2012 as well.
In addition to average commute time, the Census bureau reports how many commuters traveled less than ten minutes, 10-15 minutes, and so on, in buckets up through 60-or-more minutes. This more granular grouping provides a picture of how that average has changed. There was a clear shift in this case: the number of people in every commute category shorter than 25 minutes decreased, while it increased for every category 25 minutes or above.
Most of the hour-or-more commuters live in Farifield County. Men there spend 32.9 minutes commuting on average — a whole five minutes longer than men nationwide. Fairfield County women had an average commute of 27.6, which is three minutes longer than women nationwide.
With an increasing number of Connecticut drivers spending more time on the roads commuting to work, there will likely be intense public interest if lawmakers once again consider tolls as a way to help close the state’s budget deficit during the upcoming legislative session.
A recent study found that Connecticut could raise $1 billion a year from tolls, with in-state traffic accounting for 44 percent of that revenue. Gov.-elect Ned Lamont has expressed support for limiting tolls to tractor-trailers, saying that even this limited approach could generate $360 million a year for the state’s coffers.