February 28, 2019

CT Construction Digest Thursday February 28, 2019



Sewer line collapse threatens Ansonia businesses
Michael P. Mayko
ANSONIA — The collapse of a nearly 100-year-old sewer pipe near the Riverwalk on Pershing Drive is threatening the Naugatuck River and nearby businesses, including several restaurants along the busy street that runs into Derby.
An emergency bypass has been built around the broken pipe, allowing a pump operated around the clock by four Public Works employees to redirect the raw sewage away from the river to the treatment plant.“This is an emergency situation,” said Frank Pepe, owner of Pepe Construction in Derby and the on-call emergency contractor for the city and its Water Pollution Control Authority. “You got a heavy flow coming down from Clifton Avenue. If one of your (bypass) pumps sucks up a rag or a wipe in its propellers you’re going to have raw sewage going into ... basements.”
A sewage flood in the basement of the Lemko Club late last week led to the discovery of the break. Pepe said the owner of another building near the social club reported hearing gurgling in his pipes but experience no flooding Pepe said any discharge into buildings could result in lawsuits against the city. Discharge into the Naugatuck River would result in state fines.
“Raw sewage is nothing to fool with,” Pepe said. “You’ve got a large liability if you get backed up downstream.”
As a result, the Board of Aldermen and the Water Pollution Control Authority Commission met in an emergency session Tuesday night at City Hall. They approved hiring Pepe, who had already begun some work, in a no-bid contract.
The city is incurring costs of at least $8,000 a day between Pepe and stationing Public Works employees at the site, according to calculations made by Dan King, a 1st Ward alderman.
This is the third major break in the city’s sewer lines since December. Two lines collapsed on Wakelee Avenue during the re-construction of that street. One took place near the intersection with Mary Street and the other near the Dwight Street intersection.
“That’s what happens in cities with old, unmaintained infrastructures and no capitol improvement plans,” said Sheila O’Malley, the city’s economic development director and grants writer.
Pepe estimated the work to lay 98 feet of pipe will take “25-30 days” and cost at least $760,000 “and that’s if your manholes are in good condition and don’t have to be relined.”
But he warned they are lined with 100-year-old brick.
Pepe also suggested inspecting and if necessary relining the trunk line that goes from the sewage treatment plant on North Division Street under the railroad tracks while the equipment is there — “that way you’ll be able to sleep nights.”
He said vibrations from the trains rattling the tracks may have caused some instability.
Pepe hired the Baker Group to do the engineering on the structural support of the trench and Quick Pick Crane and Rigging in Derby. He said once the state Department of Transportation approves this method he will start digging — perhaps as soon as Monday.
The collapsed line is about 37 feet underground. “Pershing Drive was raised 15 feet after the (1955) flood, that’ why its so deep,” Pepe said.
That Flood of 1955 destroyed much of the downtown. Still Pepe said an attempt was made Saturday to cut the pipe and repair it without excavation but that was unsuccessful.

GOP, McCaw spar over tolls, tax hikes in Lamont budget

Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget director, Melissa McCaw, ran the gantlet Wednesday as she discussed tolls and taxes with the legislature’s Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.
Republican legislators charged the new Democratic governor with straying too far from his campaign promises. 
McCaw countered that Lamont wants to end Connecticut’s cycle of deficits, and said legislators have a bad habit of promising programs and tax cuts in future years — with no plan for how to pay for them.
Lamont, who said during the campaign that he would support tolls only on trucks, not only offered an option last week to toll all vehicles, but also argued that the trucks-only option doesn’t work financially.
At the same time, he also proposed canceling nearly $270 million in vehicle sales tax receipts pledged to the transportation program over the next to years.
“How is the governor justifying that with what was passed at the polls?” asked Rep. Chris Davis of Ellington, ranking House Republican on the finance panel.
Davis was referring to a new constitutional amendment ratified by nearly 90 percent of voters last November that creates a legal “lockbox” to prevent transportation revenues from being used for other purposes.
Lamont’s recommendation to keep the car sales tax receipts in the General Fund is legally permissible. The lockbox rules wouldn’t apply to this sales tax transfer until July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
But Davis also questioned whether this violates the spirit of the amendment, if not the letter of the law.
This proposal of the governor is “essentially making it meaningless, or certainly not achieving what was proposed and passed by the people of Connecticut,” he said.
McCaw responded that unless the legislature acts, the state will face a budget deficit of $3.7 billion  over the next two fiscal years. And part of that problem, she added, was caused by prior legislatures promising transfers to the transportation program — with no plans to “backfill” the hole it creates in the General Fund.
“The legislature passes laws on a regular basis that make future promises,” she said, adding if there is no plan to pay for these promises and keep the budget balanced, the governor “finds that to be problematic.”
To avert the projected deficit, Lamont also wants to cancel dozens of sales tax exemptions. Connecticut has billions of dollars of sales tax exemptions on the books — a system long criticized by many on both sides of the political aisle as unfair.
Lamont “preferred not to pick winners and losers,” McCaw said, adding that a more equal sales tax base should strengthen Connecticut’s economy in the long run.
But Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, balked at proposals to end the exemption for winter boat storage and repairs, predicting it would lead Connecticut boaters to Rhode Island next winter.
“The loser here seems to be the state of Connecticut and the individual boat owners,” Cheeseman said.
Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol, objected to Lamont’s recommendation to suspend previously approved income tax cuts for seniors. This relief — enhanced exemptions on Social Security income, pensions and annuities — was enacted 16 months ago, but scheduled to take effect in 2019.
“It just seems counterproductive to the message we are trying to send to the general public, that we are trying to get our fiscal house in order and we don’t want you to leave the state of Connecticut,” Martin said.
Davis also questioned why Lamont didn’t follow through on a campaign pledge to reduce the state’s capital stock tax. Also known as the capital base component of the corporation tax, it is a tax on a business’s net worth or capital holdings.  Connecticut imposes the nation’s highest rate at 0.31 percent. 
But McCaw said closing the projected deficit simply took top priority. “I think that the challenge was … to solve the $3.7 billion gap,” she said. “There has to be a shared sacrifice.”

Police station problems mount frustration in Bethel
Julia Perkins
BETHEL — The new police station opened in October, but its trim boards are already cracking, water drips into the firing range when it rains and a handful of items are unfinished.
Members of the Public Site and Building Committee are frustratedwith Downes Construction Company, which the committee on Tuesday night said has been slow at responding and completing the remaining work.
The incomplete items include the lights that illuminate the flagpole to a critical railing for a retaining wall.
Downes, which built the station, has come to the headquarters “little by little” over the past few months to complete the work, said Josh Adams, chair of the Public Site and Building Committee.“The whole momentum of the project has significantly fallen to the wayside,” he said. “It’s slowed right down getting this final pass completed.” The committee had hoped Downes would come to its Tuesday evening meeting, but a representative from the construction company was only available by phone. Downes did not immediately return a request for comment from Hearst Connecticut Media on Tuesday.
Dave Patrick, of Downes, told committee members a contractor would examine the water problem in the firing range on Wednesday.
Adams said the architect has told him water could be trapped in the panels of the range, but it is still unclear what is causing the problem.
Meanwhile, the trim boards in some parts of the building are cracking, with gaps forming between the boards. Adams said he suspects this is because Downes installed the material improperly.
But the railing is the most important piece because it is needed for the building to earn its full certificate of occupancy.
“These other items, they are not a safety issue,” Adams said at Tuesday’s meeting. “This is a safety issue.”
The manufacturer who was supposed to build this railing is out-of-business, so the construction company has ordered a new railing, which is expected to arrive in four weeks.
Patrick said he would send the committee written confirmation of when the railing will arrive.
“Let’s get that thing installed and let’s be done with it,” he said.
The headquarters already has a temporary certificate of occupancy and is allowed to stay open under that, Adams said.
“Theoretically, there are a lot of buildings in the area that still have a temporary C.O. (certificate of occupancy), but our goal is to get it completed and get our final C.O.,” he said before the meeting. “Downes is on board with that. They are just having a hard time getting everybody together to get the work done.”
The committee considered Tuesday night delaying paying Downes about $31,000 to pressure the company. But the majority of this money would have gone to contractors who have completed their work, so members said that would not be fair.
Adams said the committee has held up paying Downes for the last three months, but it was ineffective.“It’s still not helping the situation,” he said. “We’re at a point where we maybe need to pass it along to the town attorney and look at what leverage we have.”
Lighting in the training room also needs to be fixed, while a camera also needs to be installed to monitor the impound lot. Some landscaping work is unfinished, but the plan was always to do that in the spring.
The new police headquarters has long been controversial, with voters initially narrowly rejecting a 2014 proposal to build a new station and then a year later approving a less expensive, $13.5 million plan.
But last year the building ran about $889,000 over its budget, leaving residents to approve additional money so the headquarters could be completed.
The station also took longer to open than officials had hoped, with officers moving in a couple months later than the goal.
Meanwhile, the firing range cannot be used because it lacks a specialized HVAC unit and other equipment. These features were not part of the project voters approved, but the town aims to purchase this equipment eventually.
At one point, the equipment was estimated at $600,000, but that figure was expected to change.

What’s Going On With Truck Tolls In Rhode Island?
Last June, Rhode Island kicked off the nation’s first statewide truck-only tolling program, at two spots on Interstate 95, and so far, it’s been successful. This year, it plans to expand to ten more locations: tolling large tractor trailers. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is looking at mimicking the plan in his state. But the trucking industry is challenging the arrangement in federal court.
Rhode Island legislators decided to toll trucks to help balance the books on a 10-year plan to fix its bridges, which are some of the worst in the nation.
“We don’t need to toll cars,” said Charles St. Martin, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.
But state officials did need more transportation money. St. Martin said existing funding wasn’t enough to keep pace with the rate at which Rhode Island’s bridges wore out, or became what the federal government calls “structurally deficient.”
“We needed a little more revenue to make that happen,” St. Martin said.
So in 2016 the legislature voted to put up two truck-only tolls along Interstate I-95 in the southwestern part of Rhode Island. Those have been up for about six months and more are expected to come online soon. About one new gantry a month starting in mid-spring and running into next year.
“The tolling locations are associated with individual bridge - or bridges - depending on where they’re located,” St. Martin said. “The revenues that are collected at those locations will go to pay for the work happening on those bridges, until they’re paid for.”
So far, the RI DOT says program has exceeded expectations: pulling in about $600,000 per month.
But the American Trucking Associations and several other trucking industry groups believe the whole arrangement is unconstitutional. They’re part of a federal lawsuit saying Rhode Island’s tolls give breaks to in-state truckers, while singling out the large tractor-trailers typically engaged in state-to-state business.
“This plan of theirs violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which prevents states from imposing these kinds of burdens on interstate commerce” said Rich Pianka, a lawyer for the American Trucking Associations.
“We want to make sure to establish that other states don’t get the same idea and try to use interstate commerce - and interstate trucking - as a piggy bank for their funding issues,” Pianka said.
A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on the federal challenge in that state, citing the ongoing litigation in the case.
But this summer then-State Attorney General Peter Kilmartin filed a motion to dismiss the trucking industry’s challenge, arguing federal courts lack authority to strike down collection of tolls approved by a state government.
Oral arguments on that challenge happened in January, and a spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General said a decision on that challenge is pending.
Still, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is considering the truck-only tolls idea.
He raised the concept repeatedly on the campaign trail and brought it up again in his recent budget address. But he also pivoted, saying last week truck-only tolls won’t bring in the money he needs to repair Connecticut roads. So he’s considering tolls on cars, too.
Joe Sculley with the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut said, either way, it’s one more tax on state truckers.
“We pay a per gallon diesel tax in Connecticut. We pay the petroleum gross receipts tax. We pay registration fees. Those things are all supposed to be funding our roads,” Sculley said.
Sculley also said out-of-state truckers already pay to drive on Connecticut roads.
“There’s a misconception that out-of-state trucks travel through Connecticut for free, which is not true,” Sculley said, citing fuel costs and registration fees through the International Fuel Tax Agreement and International Registration Plan, which apportion money from out-of-state trucks back to states based on the amount of in-state miles driven.
But the efficacy of fuel-based revenues to pay for highway improvements is debatable.
In a 2018 Economic Report of the President, the White House said, “with the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles and high fuel economy vehicles, and with some fuel-based revenue sources not being indexed to inflation, the existing financing mechanism is becoming increasingly unsustainable, with funding needs growing faster than dedicated revenues.”
“The economic arguments in favor of using toll revenues to pay for roads and highways,” the report concludes, “are solid.”  

Seaport Marine to file plans for major Mystic redevelopment
Joe Wojtas   
Mystic — The owners of Seaport Marine on Washington Street expect to file a zoning application this week to demolish their 11.5-acre site and redevelop it with a second restaurant, a marine services building, a 45-room boutique hotel and a mix of 47 apartments, townhouses and single-family homes.
Plans for the Smiler’s Wharf project also call for a large boat basin to accommodate additional docking space and a public-access boardwalk, plaza and kayak pavilion.
On Wednesday, Harry Boardsen, who manages Seaport Marine and its sister property, Noank Shipyard, with his wife, Abbey Holstein, whose family owns the properties, outlined updates to the plan since a workshop was held with the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission last spring.
The only building that will remain on the site will be the popular Red 36 restaurant. Boardsen said that Angela Kanabis, who runs Red 36, also will operate the new 200-seat restaurant.
While there will be additional dockage space with the new basin, support services such as painting and mechanical work will move to Noank Shipyard. The hotel would be built at the foot of Cottrell Street, where large white boat sheds now are located. There will be no commercial space, something that had been in an earlier plan.
“Main Street is for retail,” Boardsen said, pointing out the seven new storefronts in the newly reconstructed Central Hall block.
Boardsen said he wants his property to provide amenities to attract people to town to patronize other businesses, especially those who arrive by boat and do not impact roads and parking in the downtown.
The project’s 316 parking spots are blocked from view from the street and the location of the single-family homes and other residential units are designed to provide a transition with the adjacent neighborhood.
The project would be built in phases over five years. Boardsen said he would like to break ground on the residential and dock portion of the project this fall if he can obtain the needed zoning and state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection permits.
A fiscal analysis done of the project shows it would generate almost $500,000 a year in tax revenue for the Town of Stonington, about $400,000 more than it does now. It also would generate an estimated $18 million annually in consumer spending related to its uses and create an equivalent of 155 full-time permanent jobs.
The property is zoned marine commercial but the application is seeking to use the town’s Neighborhood Development District tool, a floating zone that requires a master plan and site plan approval, public hearings for both and gives the Planning and Zoning Commission wide discretion in what it approves.
Boardsen praised the town and Director of Planning Jason Vincent in assisting him in getting the project to this point.
One hurdle the project could face is that the Mystic sewer treatment plant is nearing its capacity to process sewage. But there is a total of $1.5 million in the proposed capital improvements budgets for 2019-20 and 2020-21 for upgrades to send sewage from the Mystic plant along an existing pipeline to the borough treatment plant, which is operating at 50 percent capacity. This would create extra capacity at the Mystic plant and allow new projects, such as the Seaport Marine project and two hotels proposed for Coogan Boulevard, to tie in to the system.
Boardsen explained the project’s name comes from a Prohibition-era rum runner named Arthur Rowland, whose boats were built at a shipyard on the property at the time. It was said Rowland was always smiling.

E. Hartford completes $3.3M purchase of blighted Showcase Cinemas; redevelopment eyed   
Joe Cooper
The town of East Hartford has completed its $3.3 million purchase of the abandoned Showcase Cinemas along I-84 east, according to the mayor, who says the site will be razed and redeveloped.
Mayor Marcia Leclerc on Tuesday confirmed the town bought the "blighted structure" on Jan. 31, from Mass.-based National Amusements Inc., which closed the 14-screen movie complex in 2006 after operating it since 1973. The site includes 942, 944, 946 and 960 Silver Lane, and 285 and 291 Forbes St.
East Hartford purchased the 25.6-acre site, and 66,000-square-foot building, using state dollars previously allocated to redevelop the Silver Lane site.
The town now plans to demolish and clear the vandalized movie theater this summer with hopes of luring a new mixed-use development there. Leclerc said it will go out to bid after its demolition plans are completed.
After several years of planning, Leclerc said the town has an "aggressive path" for the redevelopment. She said the area's dense residential base could support several commercial uses, but didn't offer any specifics.
The town will soon advertise a request for qualifications in search of a developer.
"We are looking forward to turning the page to the next chapter for this most important corridor in the town…" Leclerc said.
In recent years, the former movie theater site was being considered to house Connecticut's first off-reservation casino.
In 2016, developer Anthony J. Ravosa Jr., a member of Silver Lane Partners LLC, submitted an application to use the former East Hartford movie theater site for a $200 million casino with 2,000 slots, a 2,100-space parking garage, restaurants and bars.
The group's proposal included leveraging then Hartford Radisson Hotel, which is now the Red Lion Hotel, for lodging.
In May 2017, Leclerc also pressed state lawmakers and the Mohegan Sun and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to build the jointly operated casino at the East Hartford site, but the tribes ultimately selected a vacant Showcase Cinemas property in East Windsor.
Meantime, another planned East Hartford mixed-use project fizzled last year, when Illinois developer Horizon Group Properties Inc. pulled the plug on a proposed $105 million outlet mall near Rentschler Field, citing a rocky U.S. retail environment and lack of financing.

Cheshire bond sale brings in $14.6 million for municipal projects
Luther Turmelle CHESHIRE — Town officials have successfully completed a $14.6 million bond sale.The proceeds from Wednesday’s bond sale will be used to pay for about 50 different capital projects around town, said James Jaskot, Cheshire’s director of finance said Friday. The money from the bond will be available to town officials after March 6, which is the settlement date for the sale.
“A lot of it is for infrastructure and building improvements,” Jaskot said.
A total of 12 bids were made for the municipal bonds, with BNY Mellon submitting the winning bid. The interest rates bid on the bonds ranged from a winning bid of 2.71 percent to a high bid of 2.91 percent, he said.
A lower interest rate benefits Cheshire, Jaskot said, because it means the town has to pay the bond holders less money.
“They are willing to pay a lower interest rate because they feel more secure that with our high rating, there’s less chance that they won’t get paid,” Jaskot said. “We had some concern that our bond sale might have been affected by the state’s budget crisis. But we were able to show the credit rating agencies that even though our state aid has been cut over the years, we are able to manage our budget so that we end up with surplus each year.”
The town has an AAA bond rating from both S&P Global and Fitch Ratings, two of Wall Street’s three major credit rating firms, he said. AAA is the highest rating possible and both S&P and Fitch reaffirmed their ratings before the bond sale.
Matthew Spoerndle, senior managing director of Phoenix Advisors and Cheshire’s municipal advisor, said in addition to the town’s healthy credit rating, the success of the bond sale was also the result of “prudent long term financial management.”
“Many issuers would be happy with three or four bids,” Spoerndle said in a statement. “Getting twelve is about as good as it gets.”
Town Council Chairman Rob Oris said the results of the bond sale “shows there is a lot of confidence in the town’s credit worthiness.”
Jaskot said that evidence of the town’s financial management capability came following completion in 2015 of a $32.15 million upgrade of the town’s Wastewater Treatment plant. There had been concerns about the amount that the town makes in debt service payment each year would spike as result of the cost of the wastewater treatment project, he said.
“But we planned well in advance for that debt burden, so we have been able to handle it,” Jaskot said.
Last year, with an eye toward further improving the town’s financial management, Jaskot said the council made changes to its policies regarding financial reserves.
Prior to the change, the town’s financial policy was to have a fund balance level of between 8-to-9 percent of the actual expenditures for the prior fiscal year, he said. The policy now requires a fund balance of 9.25 percent of actual expenditures for the prior fiscal year.
“We’ve added a little more cushion there,” Jaskot said.

February 27, 2019

CT Construction Digest Wednesday Febryuary 27, 2019

DOT wary Lamont’s transportation plan is too lean

Gov. Ned Lamont’s struggle to sell Connecticut on tolls may hinge on one big question. (Hint: It isn’t, ‘Why did he drop his campaign pledge to only toll trucks?’)
Namely, which planned highway, bridge or rail projects can’t begin over the next four years under the governor’s budget proposal? It’s a question that transportation officials have already asked – and shared their concerns about with the governor’s office.
But why would any projects fall into limbo between now and the time major toll receipts start arriving in 2023?
First of all, the DOT planned to launch new projects aggressively in the early 2020s, after the marathon 2017 budget debate forced it to limit last year’s building program.
Secondly, Lamont wants to use big sales tax receipts pledged for transportation — about $850 million over the next four years — to solve shortfalls in other parts of the budget.
The CT Mirror asked new DOT Commissioner James Giulietti during a press conference with Lamont last week whether the governor’s budget would curtail significant numbers of new projects due to be launched over the next few years.
“We’ve looked at it,” Giulietti said. “I’m not at that point where I’m willing to go and say that is the case right now. We’re going through an evaluation on that.”
But what Giulietti didn’t say is that the DOT has already identified concerns, according to a February departmental analysis of the governor’s proposals obtained by the CT Mirror.The governor’s plan “would have significant impacts on our capital program, severely constricting the number of new projects that advance in the current, and future years,” the DOT wrote.
Projects on the cutting block
Projects “most at risk” over the next four years include any initiatives funded exclusively with state dollars. These include the “Fix-it-First” roadway and bridge programs launched under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in response to stagnant federal transportation aid that has been falling in recent years. (Federal funds that once covered more than 70 percent of Connecticut’s transportation capital program now represent closer to one-third.)
The DOT also developed a list of 14 projects this month that have been advertised, but for which no contracts have yet been awarded. These “will be reviewed to determine whether they need to be delayed, pending a decision regarding a bonding cap,” the department wrote.
Included on that list are a planned upgrade to the Charter Oak Bridge interchange with northbound Interstate 91, platform improvements and a pedestrian bridge for the Clinton railroad station, numerous bridge rehabilitations, and a pavement preservation project.
The department also listed more than 80 other new projects which are scheduled to be advertised between February and December of this year.
New construction commitments planned over that period include tunnel improvements on Route 15 in Woodbridge, enhancements to Interstate 95 in Greenwich, and replacing the Rochambeau Bridge superstructure on Interstate 84 in Newtown.
No extra borrowing to bolster transportation 
Lamont’s budget would affect transportation — in the short-term — very significantly.
First off, the governor would take away a big transportation funding option on which the DOT had been counting.
The state borrowed $800 million to support transportation last fiscal year and anticipates another $750 million this year — borrowing which, in turn, leverages more than $700 million dollars in matching federal grants.But for the last two years, legislators also have said the transportation program — if necessary — could tap another $250 million annually from a different borrowing program, one used chiefly for school and other education projects.
Lamont’s budget would keep regular transportation borrowing flat, at around the $800 million mark for each of the next two years. But his budget also would remove the option to borrow an extra $250 million, an option the DOT was counting on.
Projects underway are safe – but what about the rest?
The Lamont administration said this week all projects already underway will be fine. As for those that the DOT wants to start over the next four years, well, they will be evaluated.
The DOT referred any questions this week about the capital program to the governor’s office.
If the administration decides more borrowing needs to be approved to launch new projects, it will be —  provided the Special Transportation Fund has enough resources to cover the added debt payments, according to Lamont spokeswoman Maribel La Luz.
But the problem with that plan is Lamont also wants to tap resources earmarked for the STF to close a deficit in the rest of the budget.
Current law calls for the STF to gain an extra $850 million from the sales tax over the next four years combined. Lamont wants to keep these dollars in the General Fund to help avert major projected deficits. The administration says state finances, unless adjusted, will run $3.7 billion in the red over the next two years.
Lamont recommended transferring $162 million from the sales tax. The transportion fund also would keep an extra $77 million over the next four years if unions grant the concessions the governor requested.In other words, the transportation fund would grow much more slowly under Lamont’s proposal than scheduled under current law — at least until 2023, when more than $740 million per year from tolls arrives.
DOT has big construction plans for the next four years
State transportation officials clearly had a different vision for the next four years.
The DOT, like many state agencies, had to water down its spending plans in 2017 when legislators battled for nine months before adopting a new state budget. Plans for $2 billion in capital spending shrank to $1.7 billion. These totals involve funds set aside from past state borrowing as well as accumulated federal grants.
This year the department had hoped to catch up. According to its latest long-range capital plan, released in mid-November, capital spending ideally should reach $2.6 billion before this fiscal year ends in June.
But because Connecticut has not invested sufficiently in transportation for decades, the goal is to keep capital spending above $2 billion for years to come. The DOT’s long-range plan calls for an average of $2.36 billion over the next four years.
The Lamont administration counters that any capital spending goals are unrealistic if they rely on an overall state budget system that is out of balance.
Still, if neither state borrowing nor federal aid is growing significantly, it will be hard to hit those targets. And it’s not just the department that has concerns.
Construction companies and trade unions also are worried Lamont’s budget could represent a temporary step back.
“I think scaling back right now would be catastrophic,” Donald Shubert, president of the Connecticut Construction Industry Association, said earlier this month. Shubert also praised Lamont for proposing tolls on all vehicles.
David Roche, president of the Connecticut State Building Trades Council, also said the state can’t afford to backtrack — even for a few years — on maintaining an aging, overcrowded transportation network.
“I really don’t believe we can have less money going into transportation,” even for a few years, Roche said.

Governor Lamont: Gold Star Memorial Bridge Illustrates How Important Infrastructure Is to Supporting Jobs
 Governor Lamont at the Gold Star Memorial Bridge

NEW LONDON, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today said that the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which carries I-95 across the Thames River between Groton and New London, is a key representation of why the state needs to be more forward-thinking, strategic and thoughtful about its transportation strategy. The 76-year-old bridge, which thousands of people depend on for their daily commute, has been rated as “structurally deficient” and in “poor condition,” with costs for a rehabilitation project estimated at around $300 million.
The governor, who held an event this afternoon at the Thames River State Boat Launch directly at the foot of the towering, 150-foot-tall overpass where he was joined a number of the region’s local elected officials, said that the bridge serves as a critical artery for southeastern Connecticut, and the rehabilitation project must go forward for the sake of the thousands of residents who utilize it each day.
“Let’s take a look at every vehicle that is driving across that bridge right now, ask ourselves, ‘Where they’re going?’ I have a hunch – hundreds of those drivers are going to the Naval Submarine Base, thousands are going to Electric Boat, and many more are going to the State Pier or are helping develop Connecticut’s emerging off-shore wind industry that will create more jobs in the coming years,” Governor Lamont said. “We have an aging infrastructure in Connecticut and our generation is facing the responsibility of bringing it into the 21st century. For the sake of our businesses and the sake of our jobs, we must not only maintain our roads and bridges, but also develop a modernized transportation system that supports continued growth and attracts new businesses and growth.”
“Fixing our aging and deficient infrastructure is not easy, but it needs to be done, and I appreciate Governor Lamont’s leadership and vision to get us there,” New London Mayor Michael Passero said. “The Gold Star Memorial Bridge is but one example among so many of how vitally important it truly is. With tens of thousands of daily commuters and locally important jobs hanging in the balance at locations like Electric Boat and the Naval Base, and critically important access to the State Pier and the potential growth of jobs in the emerging off-shore wind industry, we need to keep these investments moving forward to protect our economic future.”
The Gold Star Memorial Bridge is the longest bridge in the state at a little over one mile in length. Originally built in 1943, the demand quickly outpaced the capacity, and thirty years later a parallel bridge was constructed to accommodate its sharp rise in use – with the original structure becoming exclusively used for the northbound side of I-95 and the 1973 bridge accommodating the southbound lanes. Combined, the two structures carry eleven lanes of vehicles in addition to pedestrian paths, and average about 106,000 vehicles per day.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation is currently designing a two-phase, comprehensive rehabilitation project of the northbound bridge with construction planned to begin in 2020. The work will include the replacement of support structures, strengthening and replacement of the steel elements of the girder approach spans, replacement of bridge bearings, and finally, the total replacement of the bridge deck. It is anticipated to be completed in 2025.
Funding Connecticut’s transportation system
With gasoline taxes, which serve as the primary source of funding for the state’s transportation system, delivering less dollars, budget analysts for years have been warning that Connecticut’s transportation fund – along with a number of other states throughout the country – is on track to become insolvent unless a new revenue structure is created.
Governor Lamont said that he does not support raising the gasoline tax, which he believes is already too high, nor the use of “priority bonding” that would borrow to support transportation funding and add to the state’s debt.
In his budget address earlier this month, the governor began a discussion with the legislature on returning tolls to Connecticut, which had been removed in 1985. Connecticut is one of only two states on the eastern portion of the country that does not have a system of tolling to support its transportation system.
Governor Lamont put forward two options – one that would toll only trucks and could generate $200 million annually if applied to all of the state’s major highways, and a second option that would apply to both trucks and cars, and generate $800 million annually, under which Connecticut drivers who frequently travel on major roadways in the state would receive a maximized discount.
Estimates say that about 40 percent of tolling revenue for Connecticut could come from out-of-state drivers. “We foot the bill when we travel through neighboring states, it’s time out-of-state drivers do the same for Connecticut,” Governor Lamont told lawmakers during his budget address.
The proposals are currently being considered by the General Assembly.
Kimberly Drelich New London — Standing underneath the twin spans of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge on Tuesday, Gov. Ned Lamont said the bridge represents the type of work that the state can't postpone with the hope that a future generation will take care of it.
"This is something we’ve got to do now," he said during a news conference at the Thames River State Boat Launch. "It’s really the economic future of our state, as well as a safety issue, and that’s why we’re here today."
Lamont, joined by local officials, the deputy commissioner for the state Department of Transportation and Connecticut Construction Industries Association members, called attention to the bridge as key to the region's and state's economies — and the need to have a stable revenue stream in place to pay for transportation infrastructure.
"This is the time for us to be investing in our transportation," Lamont said, highlighting a tolling plan in which an estimated 40 percent of the revenue would be paid for by out-of-state drivers.
Lamont has proposed two tolling options before the General Assembly: tolls for trucks only, which could bring in $200 million a year, and tolls for both trucks and cars, which could bring in $800 million a year and would allow Connecticut frequent drivers to get a "maximized discount," according to a news release from the governor's office.
As he prepared the budget, the state still was awaiting resolution on Rhode Island's truck tolling plans that have faced legal challenges, Lamont told The Day's Editorial Board on Tuesday.
Lamont said, for now, his administration would hold off on bonding for a $10 million engineering study on tolling previously announced by former Gov. Dannel Malloy. Lamont said he hoped lawmakers would work together on establishing a tolling system that will enable the state to fix the Gold Star bridge "and make long-term capital commitments we need to get this state moving again."
Connecticut Construction Industries Association President Donald J. Shubert thanked the governor for starting a conversation on how the state is going to pay for infrastructure.
Gold Star Bridge
The state is planning to begin in May 2020 a nearly $300 million rehabilitation of the 76-year-old northbound side of the Gold Star that will extend the life of the bridge by 30 to 40 years, state DOT Deputy Commissioner Anna Barry said. DOT recently wrapped up repairs on the southbound span.   
"We believe this work will have a positive effect on mobility and commerce for the entire region and the entire state," Barry said during Tuesday's news conference.
New London Mayor Michael Passero stressed the need to preserve the Gold Star, which he described as "a very, very important lifeline not only for this city, but for the state of Connecticut and for New England," that connects New York and New Haven with Providence and Boston and carries more than 100,000 cars a day. The bridge is important to employees of Electric Boat, the area's economic driver, as submarines are built in Groton and the design and engineering are on the New London campus, he said.
"It's part of the lifeblood of New London," Passero said. "Right now the off-shore wind industry is looking at New London as the hub to build the next green energy source for our country and this highway is going to be important to that. New London has an intermodal transportation hub. We have ferries, we have rail, and this highway is the third leg of that, so we thank the governor for coming in today to show the commitment to rebuild our infrastructure."
Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick agreed that the area is a major transportation hub with an interstate that connects Boston and New York, a deepwater port, a railway and an airport.
The bridge also will be critical as the workforce expands in the future.
"In the next five to 10 years, Electric Boat has an expansion of about 5,000 employees, and those employees are going to need a way to get over, and this is the major thoroughfare that they’re going to use," Hedrick said. "They go back and forth, and this is a major investment in infrastructure, so I appreciate the governor for his commitment to this."
State Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and state Reps. Christine Conley, D-Groton, and Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, issued a joint news release stressing the need to prioritize the Gold Star and use tolls as a funding source. Conley said she was pleased the governor and DOT recognize the bridge's importance to the region, and de la Cruz said the bridge is "vital for commuters and commercial traffic, and especially for our manufacturers like Electric Boat."
"If we are serious about business and job growth in this state, and if we are serious about the safety of our daily commuters, we will pass a comprehensive tolls bill this session and we will use some of that future revenue to repair the Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which is in dire need of upgrades,” Osten said.      

Construction to begin on next phase of Ansonia’s Riverwalk
Jean Falbo-SosnovichANSONIA — Construction is expected to begin early this summer on the next phase of the popular Ansonia Riverwalk. The Planning and Zoning Commission this week unanimously approved plans for the latest Riverwalk expansion, dubbed Segments 3 and 4.
Engineer Terry Gallagher from DeCarlo & Doll, which is serving as project manager, presented plans to the commission during its monthly meeting Monday.
This next phase of the expansion will feature, in part, construction of the Valley’s own lighthouse perched atop a levy on the Naugatuck River.While Gallagher said the lighthouse has yet to be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, O’Malley said the Riverwalk will get its lighthouse.
“The mayor told me to get it done, so we will work through any issues,” O’Malley said. “We may have to possibly move the location, but we will have one. The engineers will figure it out
Gallagher said Segments 3 and 4 will comprise a paved, half-mile path, about 10 feet wide, with timber rails on each side. The path will run from behind the Target parking lot on Main Street to the back of other businesses on Chestnut Street and Healey Drive and come back out to Main Street, all along the Naugatuck River.
The project also will feature benches along the path, gateway elements with signage and decorative walls and historic plaques. A circular plaza/observation platform also is planned to take advantage of the river views, Gallagher added.
“It’s really going to be a nice addition to downtown Ansonia,” said Gallagher.
 Cassetti previously said the latest expansion will enable people to have “a roundtrip ticket that will loop walkers, joggers and bicyclists from the Division Street starting point, through downtown, up Main Street south, past our planned Charger Point Lighthouse, continuing over another Naugatuck River levy and ending back at Division Street for a healthy three-mile excursion.”
Segments 3 and 4 are slated to cost about $1.4 million. The project falls under the Transportation Alternatives Program, and includes funding from the Federal Highway Administration, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Bridgeport Metropolitan Planning Organization and Central Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.
O’Malley is excited to see yet another phase of the Riverwalk nearing construction.“A healthy, vibrant community provides amenities and recreational opportunities for its residents,” she said. “Mayor Cassetti firmly believes in providing these opportunities and we were fortunate to secure the funding to continue our Riverwalk. Ansonia is one of very few communities who are working on and will make the connection to communities on two borders.”
Ansonia’s main entrance to the Riverwalk on Division Street is located directly across from Derby’s popular greenway. Cassetti wants to see the city’s Riverwalk connect to Seymour, which also has a greenway in place, and ultimately all the way to Torrington’s greenway.

Derby water-tank proposal gets key OK
Michael P. Mayko
DERBY — A controversial, million-gallon water tank that Ansonia and Derby’s fire chiefs say is needed has won approval from the Regional Policy Board of the South Central Connecticut Water Authority. The storage tank, which will serve 13,000 customers in Ansonia, Seymour and Derby — and particularly Giffin Hospital — is planned for a wooded section at the far end of the Derby High School and Middle School complex near Coon Hollow Road. It would be bordered by the schools, the Public Works facility, the shuttered VARCA building and Osborndale Park.The need for the tank was clearly established by the record and testimony (during the Board’s January public hearing),” said former Ansonia Mayor Thomas Clifford, III, who chairs the Regional Policy Board. He said the board’s unanimous approval addresses public safety concerns raised by fire chiefs and Griffin Hospital regarding low water pressure during peak demand times.But before shovels go into the ground, the Derby Planning and Zoning Commission must sign off on the project.
Ted Estwan Jr., the commission’s chairman, said Tuesday that officials of the South Central Regional Water Authority told him they will file an application for Planning and Zoning’s March 19 agenda.
If that happens in time for legal notices to go out, Estwan said, a public hearing would begin that night “and probably continue into our April meeting.”
Pressure solution
Clifford said his board must consider approval of $5.1 million in bonding for the project. If approved, a final project design would be completed this spring with construction to run until next winter, much of it taking place after school ends in June.“It’s a good location,” said Carmen DiCenso, a former Board of Aldermen president and current economic development consultant to Mayor Richard Dziekan. “It’s doesn’t impact any neighborhood or houses. ... This is well-needed in that area which lacks water pressure.”
DiCenso recalled a fire in a three-family home nearby where pumpers had to be sent because the hydrants lacked water pressure.
Meanwhile, Charles Sampson, who heads Derby’s Board of Aldermen, called the Policy Board’s approval “good news.”
“This is a benefit to the city and the surrounding area,” said Sampson, who once served as Derby’s fire chief and still volunteers at Hotchkiss Hose.
“One of the biggest concerns I have had is with the low water pressure in that area,” he said. “This tank will resolve that.”
Ansonia Fire Chief Michael Eheman, Derby Fire Chief Robert Laskowski Jr. and Dziekan were among those who urged the 21-member policy board to approve the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority’s proposal to begin building the tank this year.
Considering appearance
Mary Motasky, a resident who lives in the 70-unit Summit condominiums on Coon Hollow Road, expressed concerns about aesthetics of the tank.
“We are going to clear trees around the tank but not the entire parcel,” said Ted Norris, who with Rose Gavrilovic, presented the Authority’s proposal to the board in January. He said the tank would be 50 feet tall with a 60-foot diameter. Once completed, the Authority plans to surround it with trees.
“We do not anticipate blasting,” Gavrilovic said. “A small portion of rock will have to be removed and we’ll flatten the area. But we don’t anticipate blasting.” This marks the second time in seven years that the Regional Water Authority sought permission to build a storage tank in Derby.
Plans to build a 2 million-gallon tank on Telescope Mountain on Summit Street were withdrawn after city officials and neighbors complained about the impact of blasting and the aesthetics of a water tank in a residential area.
The new site was chosen from 105 others because of its wooded location, its proximity to a water main and the land’s availability.
The Authority’s proposal involves leasing 2.15 acres on the north portion of Nutmeg Avenue from Derby for $1 for 99 years with the option for two 99-year extensions.
The Authority also is planning to fund the city’s purchase of 1.25 acres of adjacent land owned by St. Peter and St. Paul Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ansonia. The nearby parcel would be used as a construction staging area. Afterward, a portion would be paved for the city to use as a parking lot for the VARCA building. The church’s Board of Directors this week approved a negotiated sale of the land.

February 26, 2019

CT Construction Digest Tuesday February 26, 2019

WHO: Governor Lamont, Commissioner Giulietti
WHAT: Governor Lamont holds news conference to discuss transportation infrastructure
WHENTODAY 26, 2019; 1:00 p.m.
WHERE: Near the Gold Star Memorial Bridge
**DIRECTIONS: (no specific GPS coordinates)
From I-95 Southbound: Take Exit 84 South.  Take a left on Crystal Avenue.  Then a right onto State Pier Road.  Stay left to stay on State Pier Road.  Thames River State Boat Launch will be located on your left.
From I-95 Northbound: Take Exit 83. Turn left onto Williams Street.  Then turn right onto Cole Street.  Turn slight right onto State Pier Road, follow for 0.4 miles.  Stay left in order to stay on State Pier Road.  Thames River State Boat Launch will be located on your left.

One State Pier Rd New London

Feds call Connecticut’s statewide tolls proposal ‘new territory’

Waterbury — Gusty winds peppered Gov. Ned Lamont with dust and occasional snow flurries Monday as he stood beneath the “mixmaster,” the outmoded I-84 and Route 8 interchange undergoing a $152.9 million rehabilitation that will buy Connecticut time — putting off a far more expensive and disruptive replacement for another 25 years.
Looming above him like a prehistoric, if badly rusting, octopus, the mixmaster provided a telegenic backdrop for the easiest part of Lamont’s campaign to win approval of electronic highway tolls: Demonstrating how desperate is the need for the modernization of an interstate highway system conceived in the 1950s.
The harder part is answering the many questions that so far have stymied the new administration, among them: Where precisely would the overhead tolling gantries go up? What would the tolls costs local commuters? How much of a discount could the state offer locals without provoking a court challenge from the interstate trucking industry?
No state has attempted what Connecticut is now in the early stages of promoting: Devising a plan to install tolling on existing highways throughout the state, as opposed to placing tolls on a single road, bridge or tunnel. 
“I think this is new territory for all of us,” said Cynthia L. Essenmacher, the tolling program manager at the Federal Highway Administration’s Center for Innovative Finance Support.
Retro-fitting an old interstate highway system with tolls is a complex undertaking, especially when most of the system was constructed with federal funds. The Lamont administration would like to install tolls on its three major interstates: 84, 91 and 95, plus the cars-only Merritt Parkway.
Essenmacher said in a telephone interview that Connecticut is not the only state exploring using electronic tolls to finance the reconstruction, modernization or expansion of highways on a regional scale, but none has come forward with a detailed, statewide plan for review by the federal government.

 Federal law generally prohibits adding tolls to existing interstate highways, but Connecticut is one of 13 states in the Federal Highway Administration’s “Value Pricing Pilot Program,” which requires congestion pricing to encourage commuters to drive at off-peak times. Federal law also allows tolls to pay for the reconstruction of highways.
“Connecticut has not determined where it would seek federal tolling authority on their projects,” Essenmacher said. “It remains to be seen how exactly the tolling scheme would be played out under federal law.”
Based on Lamont’s comments Monday, Connecticut has considerable work to do.
His predecessor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, arranged for the Bond Commission to approve $10 million in planning funds for a tolling system, but Lamont has yet to sign off on going ahead with the expenditure and seems disinclined to do so until the legislature signals its supports for tolls.
Lamont has presented lawmakers with two options: electronic tolling on all motor vehicles or just trucks, as he proposed during the campaign. But the first option clearly is Lamont’s choice, as his administration now concedes that trucks-only tolls would raise too little revenue to make a difference and would be vulnerable to legal challenge.
“We’re going to lay out these different options to the legislature,” Lamont said Monday. “Once we get a green light on how we want to proceed, then we’re going to put in place the study we need to tell us exactly how we roll this out and, working with the legislature, figure out what is a reasonable way to price it and what it looks like.”
There is a chicken-and-egg aspect to the tolls issue: Lamont wants legislative endorsement to spend more money, but some legislators want more details that could require further study.
CDM Smith, a consultant for the state Department of Transportation, produced an evaluation last year of various tolling options for a system far more extensive than Lamont now wants lawmakers to consider. In addition to the Merritt and interstates 84, 91 and 95, that evaluation assumed tolls on Routes, 2, 8 and 9, the state’s busiest highways, and secondary intestates like 291, 395 and 691.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the Smith study is of limited use, given that Lamont’s proposal is different than the potential system evaluated by the consultant. He wants the governor to consider a Republican infrastructure plan that would rely on the state’s existing borrowing capacity, but set transportation as a priority.
“I’m looking forward to having a conversation with the governor,” Fasano said. “I’m sure we will be having a conversation.”
But Fasano, as well as the construction industry, has criticized Lamont’s budget proposal for diverting some spending from transportation in the near-term, while holding out the promise of as much as $800 million in annual tolling revenue, beginning no earlier than 2023. Lamont was unable to say Monday what projects might be delayed due to the near-term cut.
The mixmaster project began in June, funded by previously allocated bonding. With the design costs included, the project will cost about $200 million. It is scheduled to be completed in September 2022. By then, the issue of highway tolls presumably will be long resolved, and Lamont will be in the final months of a re-election campaign or watching a fight among would-be successors. 
Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary and two local legislators, Reps. Ron Napoli and Geraldo Reyes Jr., and Don Shubert, the head of a construction trade group, joined Lamont on Monday to promote transportation spending and tolls as vital to economic growth in Connecticut. O’Leary said a recently completed widening of I-84 already has eased congestion and raised property values of the city’s east side.
“We’ve got to get this transportation system moving,” Lamont said. “We cannot get growing again until we get Connecticut moving again.”
On Tuesday, Lamont will hold a press conference at the mile-long Gold Star Memorial Bridge, which carries 106,000 vehicles every day on I-95 across the Thames River between Groton and New London. He is to be accompanied by local mayors and Shubert, the president of the Connecticut Construction Industry Association.
Shubert applauds Lamont’s call for tolls, but is opposed to elements of the governor’s proposed “debt diet” that could postpone hundreds of millions of dollars in potential borrowing for transportation to help solve  larger problems in Connecticut’s finances.
“I think scaling back right now would be catastrophic,” Shubert says.
Lamont said crucial maintenance would continue.
The governor, a Democrat, invoked an unlikely ally, the Trump administration, in his call for tolls. Lamont said Vice President Mike Pence encouraged governors to think about transportation when he addressed the National Governors Association over the weekend.
“He brought up the fact that the number one priority of this administration is get an infrastructure bill passed, and passed in this session right now — nothing more important, Republicans and Democrats, labor and business, keep our folks working, get our states moving again,” Lamont said.  “I think that is going to happen and when that happens I want to make sure Connecticut is at the front of the line.”
Susan Raff (VIDEO)  Gov. Ned Lamont was at the mixmaster construction area on Monday at 9:30 a.m.Lamont, transportation commissioner Joseph Giulietti, Mayor Neil O'Leary, Rep. Geraldo Reyes and Rep. Ron Napoli spoke about the 50-year-old mixmaster. They described the point where Interstate 84 and Route 8 come together as an elevated maze of intersecting, overlapping and diverging bridges.
They said it's used by more than 180,000 vehicles per day.
It's also a source of severe congestion and bottlenecking.
"We've got to do a better job. It doesn't happen overnight, but it starts right now," said Lamont. 
Lamont made transportation one of the focal points of his budget, which he presented last week.
He held a similar infrastructure news conference on Thursday in Hartford during which he said the I-84 viaduct in that area was in desperate need of repair.
He also said in its current state, the cost is high to maintain.
Roughly $200 million is being spent on basic repairs, but it's not enough to ease congestion and make the ride smoother for commuters. 
"Improving traffic flow on I-84 in Waterbury will have a positive effect on commerce and freight throughout the entire state," said Commissioner Joseph Giulietti, Department of Transportation. 
Waterbury's Mayor said some of the work has paid off, but a lot more is needed. 
"Businesses have moved in, and have relocated to the east side of the city because you can now get in and out of this city," said Mayor Neil O'Leary. 
What's being done is considered a band aid. The plan is to eliminate the mixmaster all together, get rid of the maze of highways and intersections, to create a better flow for traffic. 
Lamont said that to get the state moving again, sacrifices would have to be made.
Some of those sacrifices may include tolls on all vehicles, an option he said he is considering.
The Senate Minority Leaders said residents can pay for projects without tolls. The Republican plan prioritizes bonding, but that means some cities and towns may not get funding for their own projects.
Lamont has been critical of the GOP plan for being too heavy on borrowing. 
"He's on a solo track, no matter what tolls cost taxpayers in Connecticut. And to this day, he has not told people what these tolls will cost the people of Connecticut," said Senator Len Fasano. 
More on the I-84 mixmaster rehab project can be found here.

Alexander Soule
The crane and lift maker Terex is projecting lower overall sales this year, after reaching an agreement late last week to sell a division based in Germany that makes all-terrain “crawler” cranes, but expects revenue increases in its continuing businesses.
Westport-based Terex reported a 17 percent increase in revenue last year to $5.1 billion, while forecasting $4.7 billion in revenue in 2019. Terex’s global backlog of orders was more than $1.9 billion as of December, the highest level since the previous March.
Terex shares are up nearly a third this year to above $36 on Monday, a level the issue last reached in October.
Terex is selling its Demag Mobile Cranes division in Germany for $215 million to the Japan-based truck crane maker Tadano. In conjunction with the deal, Terex is also ending production of mobile cranes in Oklahoma City, where it will continue to produce “telehandler” forklifts with extendable booms.
CEO John Garrison Jr. said Monday that Terex will reinvest much of those proceeds in an expansion of manufacturing capacity in other parts of its business including at a new plant in South Dakota focused on the utilities sector.
Garrison said the decision to curtail production of the Oklahoma City lines was made after an analysis of the profit potential for those cranes. Terex is retaining several product lines including tower cranes; wheeled, rough-terrain cranes made in Italy; and “pick and carry” trucks with booms to lift large objects.“We basically came to the conclusion that the ... (investment) return profile on these products did not meet our criteria; (and) would require substantially more investment (over) time to get a return on that investment, and it was not acceptable,” Garrison said. “With that said, the crane businesses that we are retaining our strong businesses.”
Terex’s biggest seller is its line of motorized Genie aerial platforms used to lift construction workers, with global sales of $2.6 billion. Genie’s main production plant in Washington was closed for a week this month after a winter blizzard there, with a possible impact on Terex’s overall results in the current first quarter.
Overall North American sales jumped 22 percent, tops of any region where the company sells equipment, with Asia sales seeing a year-over-year gain at only half that level. After the Trump administration levied new tariffs last year on a range of imports from China, Garrison said Terex “reset prices” in his words to recover a significant amount of those extra costs, with the company having disclosed previously surcharges to cover the cost of steel parts for its machines.
Full-year profits were down 12 percent to below $114 million, including a $33 million loss in the fourth quarter created by a $67 million charge against earnings to account for an “annuitization” of the company’s U.S. pension.
Terex stated on Monday that it expects to reduce its future pension liabilities by $109 million, after reaching an agreement last November with an insurance company to transfer the obligation to pay remaining retirement benefits of all plan participants in its U.S. defined benefit plan. Terex had reported a $153 million accumulated pension obligation entering 2018 for U.S. workers, and $229 million for workers in its international operations.
Under Garrison, Terex has been working to reduce its administrative expenses, but in 2017 added 100 U.S. employees to give it 5,000 in all. Garrison said Terex has a “zero harm” safety program under way, in his words, which he credited with contributing to a 27 percent reduction in employee “loss time” last year.

Lamont says tolls needed to fund projects like Mixmaster replacement in Waterbury 
Paul Hughes
WATERBURY — The Mixmaster was the backdrop for Gov. Ned Lamont’s latest plea for more transportation funding on Monday morning.
The newly elected governor and state Department of Transpiration Commissioner Joseph J. Giulietti spoke of a need to fund projects to maintain the state’s transportation system, including the aging ramps and bridges that comprise the junction of Route 8 and Interstate 84.
Lamont reiterated his call for tolls as a means to generate the funding needed.
A $152 million rehabilitation of the Mixmaster that’s currently underway is expected to extend its lifespan by about 30 years. After that, the interchange will need to be replaced at a cost of billions of dollars, the DOT said.

February 25, 2019

CT Construction Digest Monday February 25, 2019

West Haven’s ‘The Haven’ hires security; official wants answers on project delay
Pam McLoughlin
WEST HAVEN — The developer of The Haven, a planned high-end outlet mall, has hired a security company to monitor the area of boarded up houses following two recent fires, according to Mayor Nancy Rossi.
But a city council member in the district says the public also wants answers from the developer about the project that has not started more than four years after it was announced.
“People don’t know what’s happening. They never get an update. People have been suspicious, jaded,” said Councilman Aaron Charney, D-3. “Let the developer come and tell us…Our imaginations are going wild.”However, Rossi said in an email Friday, “The Haven is still coming.”She said in the email that the developer is waiting for a certificate from the Office of State Traffic Administration — or OSTA — which falls under the state Department of Transportation. That will take 30 to 45 days, she said.
The city will also begin the street closure process for the project, “as that is required as part of the city development agreement with The Haven Group and it may make the project more secure,” Rossi’s said in a release.
Messore said recently at the podium of a City Council meeting that the project is awaiting approval by OSTA.
DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick confirmed recently that the project is being reviewed by OSTA because it is considered a major traffic generator. He said that application is following the normal course and the developer may be required to make changes to roads and traffic patterns in that area.
While residents have publicly expressed concern about whether the project will come to fruition in their financially troubled city, the security of the area has become the more pressing topic in the last few weeks following fires at two of The Haven properties: a boarded up house on Richards Place on Feb. 8 and the former Bilco Co. on Water Street. The fire at Bilco on Feb. 17 was determined to be likely intentionally set, while the other is not conclusive, but fire officials said they are taking another look at that case to see if the two are related.Rossi said in an email and a prepared statement Friday that the The Haven group “has engaged a security company to monitor The Haven. This will provide security at the development site as a result of the recent fires.”
The Register sought further information, but after contacting city Commissioner of Planning and Development Fred Messore, The Haven spokesman Matt Armstrong, and Rossi, received an email from Messore saying, “The mayor’s office and developer are preparing a press release which will be distributed when ready.”
Rossi’s release regarding security also said that for the previous four nights until Sunday when the security company was to begin, the city Police Department sent officers to monitor the site. She said the developer will pay for the police coverage that took place.
The Center Fire District, the fire marshal and the Building Department have been inspecting the properties and will issue a report to the city, Rossi said in the release.“The City will also do what is necessary to keep the site safe,” Rossi said.
There are 57 properties within the 24-acre project area, which is bounded by Main Street, First Avenue and Elm Street. The project includes what is now Water Street, which will be closed and eliminated as The Haven is built.
The site plan application for the 265,000 square feet of retail and restaurant development has approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
At the time, a representative of the developer said the target date for The Haven to open was June 2020. Developer Armstrong didn’t return a call seeking clarification on that date or other comment.
Rossi has said she is “very excited” about The Haven project, and at the time of approval called it a “Game changer.” The city has financial oversight by a state Municipal Accountability Review Board.Rossi said at the time of project approval, “We’re going to do everything we can to facilitate everything ... because I would like to see this project done sooner rather than later.”
The project along New Haven Harbor at the mouth of the West River between Elm and Main streets, back when John Picard was mayor and was first announced over four years ago by Mayor Ed O’BrienThe project has been billed by the developer as America’s first upscale waterfront outlet mall. In addition to 80 stores and five restaurants, it would offer a public waterfront promenade with a 200-seat amphitheater.Charney said he’s heard from at least 200 residents regarding concerns about The Haven security and future — and has consistently brought that issue up at the beginning of City Council meetings. He said the developer should answer questions.There is talk among residents of homeless and others breaking into the boarded up homes and increasing the risk for fire, but that can neither be confirmed nor denied, Deputy Chief Joseph Perno said.“Most buildings are in very poor condition inside,” Perno said.Charney said area residents report witnessing changes at the properties, such as windows being open and shut and conditions being present that weren’t there before.
“I just want progress,” he said.Representatives of The Haven developers have said designers have worked to preserve and enhance the site’s connection to Long Island Sound.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group later joined The Haven Group. Simon, owner of the Clinton Crossing outlets in Clinton and the Crystal Mall in Waterford, is one of the largest shopping center developers in the world.The plans include 80 stores and five full-service restaurants.
The Haven spent years in the acquisition stage as the developers negotiated with 57 property owners.
Armstrong has said The Haven would pay $2 million in annual property tax and create more than $15 million in incremental sales tax for the state, as well as 800 full-time and 400 part-time jobs, plus 800 construction jobs using all Connecticut-based contractors.

Casino, sports betting bills scheduled for hearing Tuesday
Brian Hallenbeck
In his budget address last week, Gov. Ned Lamont mentioned the state’s need to “enact new sources of revenues, such as sports betting and internet wagering.”
He said nothing about casino expansion.
Nevertheless, there figures to be plenty of talk about such topics in the weeks ahead, starting Tuesday, when the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee takes testimony on four gaming bills, one of which seeks to “fix” the 2017 law that authorized the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to build an East Windsor casino.
Another bill would create the Connecticut Gaming Commission and launch a competitive-bidding process for a resort casino. A third bill deals with the legalization of sports betting while a fourth would legalize sports betting and online gambling and keno.
The hearing is set for 10 a.m. in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
State Sen. Cathy Osten, a Sprague Democrat, and a host of other southeastern Connecticut lawmakers are behind the bill that would eliminate the requirement that the two casino-owning tribes secure federal approval of their amended gaming agreements with the state before proceeding with the East Windsor project. That requirement was a condition of the law that authorized the project.
While the U.S. Department of the Interior has recognized the Mohegans’ agreement, it has not acted on the Mashantuckets’ agreement, prompting the state and the tribe to pursue a federal lawsuit against Interior, and members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation to call for Interior's inspector general to investigate.
The state and the tribes believe MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas casino operator, managed to influence Interior’s handling of the tribes’ agreements, derailing the East Windsor project. Amid the delay, MGM has opened a nearly $1 billion resort casino in Springfield, Mass., siphoning business from the tribes’ southeastern Connecticut casinos.
Proponents of the East Windsor “fix” believe it can be taken up — and passed — as is, without being tied to other gaming proposals.
Some lawmakers, including many in the southeastern delegation, also believe sports betting can be dealt with as a separate issue. Another bill submitted by Osten would allow the Mashantuckets and the Mohegans to provide sports betting at their casinos and via mobile devices from anywhere in the state. The measure also would authorize the Connecticut Lottery Corp. to operate online keno within the state “pursuant to agreements” with the tribes.
Rhode Island introduced sports betting at two casinos late last year and is considering authorizing mobile sports betting from within that state. Massachusetts also is considering sports betting legislation.
Rep. Joe Verrengia, the West Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the public safety committee, has said he favors a comprehensive approach to gaming legislation as well as the creation of a commission, modeled on the one in place in Massachusetts, to oversee state-approved gaming.
The creation of a Connecticut Gaming Commission is part of a bill that would establish a competitive-bidding process for a resort casino in the state. MGM Resorts, which has proposed a Bridgeport casino project, is pushing the legislation for a third time. While a 2017 bill proposing competitive bidding failed to reach the floor of the House, last year’s version was approved there, 77-73, but did not get a vote in the Senate.
Fifteen lawmakers representing the Bridgeport and New Haven areas have signed on to this year’s bill.

Wallingford dam work expected to resume in spring
Mary Ellen Godin
WALLINGFORD — Construction on the Dayton Pond Dam is expected to resume in April, according to Town Engineer Robert Baltramaitis.
The roughly $1 million project calls for removing the existing dam and replacing it.
The dam, near the West Dayton Hiil Road bridge, blocks the Muddy River to create Dayton Pond.
In the late 1990s, the state issued consent orders to municipalities to repair dams. A report by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s office of Adjudications found the Dayton Pond Dam’s spillway would not withstand a 100-year storm.
In 2015, the Town Council authorized Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. to enter into a contract with the DEEP to replace the dam.
Construction costs are valued at just over $960,000, and the town has an agreement with the state for a 50 percent reimbursement up to $600,000.
Work began in July and was halted for the winter. The affected area will be restored when construction is complete in the early summer, Baltramaitis said.
Republican Town Councilor John LeTourneau disagreed the dam needed to be replaced and opposed the project. He’s also concerned about the cost of clearing the debris.
“They clear cut a road, cut down trees,” LeTourneau said. “All the fish in the pond are gone. It’s another one of those silly state projects that ends up costing the town money.”

Developer close to breaking ground on 11 Crown St. project
Matthew Zabierek
MERIDEN — Construction of an 81-unit, mixed-income housing development at 11 Crown St. is expected to begin this month.
The city entered into a “ground lease” last week with 11 Crown Street Associates, part of the New Jersey-based Michaels Organization, for the downtown site once occupied by the Record-Journal building.
The $30 million project will include 63 rental apartments and 18 town-house style units, according to former Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski.  Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed next year, said Burdelski, who resigned late last week after more than a decade with the city.
Under the ground lease agreement, the development company will be allowed to develop the city-owned site and will gain ownership once construction is completed.
As part of the lease, the city has received a payment of $495,000 that is “earmarked for maintenance of the Meriden Green park and flood control site,”  Burdelski said.
“Building permit fees will also be collected immediately.  The development will be taxable following the construction period,” she said.
The development is subject to an 80 percent tax abatement authorized by the City Council for a 17-year period.
The 81 units will be comprised of 39 affordable units, 17 market rate units, and 25 units “set aside” for former Mills Memorial Apartments residents, Burdelski said.
The Crown Street development is the fourth downtown project in the city’s 5-year plan to relocate former residents of the Mills housing projects, which were demolished last year. Other projects in the city and Meriden Housing Authority’s plan include 24 Colony Street and Meriden Commons I & II.
“In total, the City has brought online 295 total housing units that leveraged over $100 million of private investment while demolishing 140 units of distressed public housing,” Burdelski said. “This is a milestone that we all should celebrate.”
Construction on the Crown Street site, which the city and developer expected would start last summer, was delayed due to “legal and site utility issues.”
“All issues have been addressed and we expect the developer to begin construction immediately,” Burdelski said.
The development will have two phases: an apartment building facing the Meriden Green complemented by row-style homes bordering South Colony and Crown Streets, according to project renderings.
“The design incorporates a nod to Meriden's industrial past while building new, state of the art homes that are timeless and consistent with the historic downtown character,” the city’s economic development website says.
The city purchased the site in 2014 using a $495,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city identified the Michaels Organization as the preferred developer through a bid process, according to a presentation given to the City Council in 2017. After the Michaels Organization determined the Record-Journal building could not be repurposed, the city applied for and received a $1.73 million grant to complete environmental remediation at the 1.6-acre site and demolish the building.
Demolition was completed in 2017.