Mary E. O'Leary
NEW HAVEN — Extensive road work is coming to downtown, but the end point will be a reconnected Orange Street with an at-grade connection that will be safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers as it opens up space on the Route 34 connector to development.The city this spring will begin Phase 2 of the Downtown Crossing with bids coming in under $18 million for construction, according to Donna Hall, the project manager.
Phase 3, which will connect Temple Street at a later date across Route 34, and Phase 2 together, will cost $53.5 million, with the city’s contribution $12 million and the rest covered by a federal Tiger grant and state bonding.
Phase 1 closed the on and off ramps to Interstate 95 downtown; building infrastructure for the College Street crossing where Alexion has its headquarters with tunnels going undereath. That project finished in 2016.
“That has always been a very challenging problem for us to solve,” Hall said with large decals now pointing the way. “You can almost see it,” Hall said, but there is so much in the way. The infrastructure improvements will help this by all modes of traveling.
Interim Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli said the tax phase in for Alexion is complete and the building will generate $4.7 million in taxes for the city. The completed Downtown Crossing will make room for an estimated four sizable developments on Route 34 from College Street back to Church Street.The planners have “ghosted” in these potential developments in this section of Route 34 in front of the Alexion building that illustrates the way they can make a significant contribution.
Hall said it has proven a challenge to continue to have access to the garages along the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, “but that is what engineers are for.”She said the Route 34 connector has been like a river that divides the central business distrct on one side and the medical district on the other side.
Aicha Woods, deputy city plan director, said it will change the way we look at the city. “It creates a whole new skyline,” she said.
“It shows the centrality of that location and the capacity for a slightly larger scale. There are not a lot of places in the city where it really feels great to have larger buildings,” Woods said.
It comes up against Randy Salvatore’s, RMS Companies $100 million investment,which is part of the Hill to Downtown project that will feature a total of 537 apartments only blocks from downtown,
Hall said one of the biggest challenges is drainage and historically the water used to come really close to this area as it used to be a creek. She said extensive design work has been undertaken to correct this.
Phase 2 will be completed in the winter of 2021; Phase 3 construction begins December 2020 and wraps up in 2022.
Extensive interaction with residents, abutting propery owners, community management teams and other key stakeholders are being planned.
Cromwell takes town garage decision to referendum
CROMWELL - A referendum vote March 20 will decide the fate of the proposed new town garage.
The town is seeking approval to build a 38,732-square-foot combination public works/Water Pollution Control Authority garage and office complex on 13.5 acres of town-owned property off County Line Road.
The project is estimated to cost $9.3 million and will be paid for by a combination of borrowing, money from the General Fund and fund balance (surplus) from the WPCA.
Town officials held a town meeting Monday to lay out the history of the project and its anticipated cost and to introduce the company that has bene chosen to act as a design and build contractor.
Officials had anticipated voting on the project following the meeting. However, the town council’s three Democratic members - James Demetriades, Myron P. Johnson and Allan Waters - submitted petitions Friday to the town clerk to hold a referendum on the proposal instead.
Waters said Tuesday afternoon that taking the issue to referendum was “the smartest way for residents to decide when you are talking this amount of money.” He also said it was “the fairest” way to decide the issue.
“The taxpayers deserve to be treated like this, where you have the opportunity for two, three, four, or five hundred coming out to vote in a referendum instead of just the 50 people who came out Monday for the town meeting,” he said.
During Monday’s meeting, Town Engineer Jon Harriman laid out the history of the effort to replace the aging public works garage behind Pierson Park.The first effort to replace the garage began in 2004, with a proposed 63,000-square-foot facility that would have cost $9.5 million. Town officials blanched at the projected cost.
However, in 2012, the WPCA — which rents space in a small building behind police headquarters — had exceeded its available space. WPCA officials contacted the town about merging the WPCA and the public works garage.
Last year, when the Scannell Properties sought land to build a 400,000-square-foot warehouse off County Line Road, the company and the town worked out a land swap. That cleared the way for construction of the warehouse and opened the door for the town to build the garage.
The town is under orders from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to move and upgrade the transfer statio,n which adjoins the garage property.
Harriman said the town would also move the existing salt shed from the present garage site and install (and upgrade) it at the new garage.The proposed garage would have a 25,500—square-foot garage, a four-bay repair garage and an indoor washing station to clean salt off trucks and thus increase their usable life, Harriman said.
Director of Finance Marianne Sylvester said the town will issue a $7.5 million bond to pay the lion’s share of the construction costs. The timing of that sale will be closely monitored.
“During the time of this project, a lot of debt will dropping off,” she said, as the town pays down the last of the high school construction bonds.
In the meantime, continuing economic development in town “should mitigate increases in the mill rate,” she said. In and of itself, the project would add “a third to four-tenths of a mill” to the tax rate, Sylvester said.
Officials of the D’Amato Construction Co. of Bristol, which has been chosen as the design/build contractor, estimated the work will take 18 months to complete.
Aquarion to replace water mains in downtown Mystic
Mystic -- The Aquarion Water Company announced Monday that it will begin replacing water mains on four downtown streets starting next week.
Work will begin Monday, March 18, on Gravel Street. Plans then call for replacing water mains on Clift Street in late April, followed by Pearl Street in June and then Bank Street and Academy Lane in July. The work is projected to be completed by late this year.
Aquarion said the replacement of 8,150 feet or more than 1.5 miles of water main, is part of its effort to improve its water distribution system and ensure the highest quality water. The upgrades are also designed to reduce leaks and water main breaks that can interrupt services.
Aquarion said that during the work, customers may experience temporary service disruptions or discolored water. It recommends they store water in their refrigerators for drinking and cooking in case this occurs. Customers also should refrain from washing laundry if their water is discolored. Prior to resuming use, customers should run their cold-water faucets until the water appears clear.
Customers should also expect minor traffic delays and possible detours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mizzy Construction of Plainfield is the contractor for the project.
To keep customers informed about scheduled/unscheduled work, Aquarion utilizes a CodeRED notification system to call affected customers. Aquarion encourages customers to sign up for this free service atwww.aquarionwater.com/codered.
Customers with project-related questions may also contact John Farrell, Aquarion’s pipeline coordinator, at (203) 362-3048. For service or water-related issues, contact Aquarion Customer Service at 1-800-732-9678.