Login to Portal

Forgot your password? Click here.

Don’t have an account? Click here.


CT Construction Digest Friday April 17, 2020

Brief outbreak of tolls debate marks Bond Commission meeting

The unifying crisis of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t prevent the tolls debate from resurfacing Thursday at the state Capitol.
Republican legislative leaders charged Gov. Ned Lamont with retaliating against toll opponents after the State Bond Commission scrapped financing at the last minute for rail cars for the Waterbury and Danbury lines.
The administration countered that the change was due to a simple, agenda error. But Lamont also told critics that the state’s transportation program is running dry and legislators must address that.
“We don’t have an endless supply of bonding money,” the governor told Rep. Chris Davis of Ellington, a commission member and ranking House Republican on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. “We had to make some choices and these were the choices we made.”
The bond commission unanimously approved more than $700 million in total financing for various transportation projects across the state.
Thursday’s agenda originally called for some of that total — $300 million — to be used to purchase 72 rail cars to be distributed among four lines: Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford and Shoreline East — which serves south-central and southeastern Connecticut.
But Lamont’s budget director, Melissa McCaw, amended the item, saying the $300 million would cover just 60 cars, and that they would go only to Hartford and to Shoreline East.
When Davis asked why the 60 cars couldn’t be shared among all four lines, Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti replied that the Shoreline and Hartford lines have the greatest need for cars, and the oldest vehicles.
“Governor Lamont is punishing an entire region that is loaded with talent and skillsets that need to be developed,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, told the CT Mirror immediately after the purchase was revised. “I think it’s very clear what happened here.”
The Democratic governor — who originally proposed tolls on all vehicles and later just on commercial trucks — ran into bipartisan opposition on both fronts.
But Klarides said improving the connections between Danbury, Waterbury and New York City enjoys strong support from both parties — and comes with a huge economic payoff that would benefit all of Connecticut.
“The governor stood in the [Naugatuck] Valley five days before his election and said ‘this part of the state has been ignored for far too long. That will change if I’m elected governor.’ And all he has done is ignore us since the election.”
Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck, added after the meeting that Lamont’s decision was “completely irresponsible and further represses the ability of the greater Waterbury area to thrive. … if there ever was a presentation of a necessity, a need, that would benefit the state of Connecticut, this was it.”
And Republicans weren’t the only ones to complain.
Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, also a member of the bond commission and co-chairman of the finance committee, told Lamont “there’s significant disappointment with the decision that’s been made and the manner in which it’s been made. … I hope, in the future, you’ll give it serious consideration.”
But administration officials have argued for months that toll opponents want to have their cake — in this case, robust investments in transportation — without paying.
On paper, the budget’s Special Transportation Fund — which repays the borrowing that sustains highway, bridge and rail upgrades —  is in fine shape, projected to run modest surpluses through 2024.
But those numbers only hold up if Connecticut keeps fixing infrastructure at its current pace that barely maintains a state of good repair — and leaves very little for strategic projects that enhance traffic flow.
To address all concerns, DOT officials said earlier this year, the state would need to boost its annual capital investment by about 25%.
At that pace, the transportation fund hits insolvency around 2025 or 2026.
Towns to finally receive long awaited state aid
In other business Thursday, the bond commission approved the release of $136 million in long-awaited grants to cities and towns.
Some of those funds were due as far back as July. The current fiscal year, which the grants cover, will end less than three months from now on June 30.
Though most grants are paid out of the state budget, Connecticut does finance some municipal assistance with bonding. But Lamont delayed approval of a full state bond package — a necessary prerequisite before grants can be distributed — through 2019 and the first two months of this year, trying to get legislators to approve electronic tolling.
One grant approved Thursday was the full $60 million Town Aid Road program, which pays for road repairs, tree-clearing and snow removal.
The bond commission also approved the full $76 million pledged to towns this fiscal year through an omnibus public works grant. 
This is a huge relief for towns, particularly during these challenging times,” said Betsy Gara, Executive Director of Connecticut Council of Small Towns. “Towns have had to delay projects, shift funding from other programs or draw down reserves to fund critical infrastructure projects.”
Thursday’s meeting was the bond commission’s second attempt to gather since the coronavirus pandemic began. An April 8 meeting by teleconference was suspended after technical difficulties.
New London port development advances
The commission also approved $30 million to support ongoing efforts to transform the port of New London into the green energy capital of the Northeast.
Lamont announced on Feb. 11 that the Connecticut Port Authority had reached a deal with Eversource and its Denmark-based partner, Ørsted North America, to develop an offshore wind turbine farm expected to create 400 jobs and generate as much as 4,000 megawatt hours of electricity. Part of that initiative includes redesigning State Pier and the surrounding area in New London into a heavy-lift capable port that can accommodate wind generation equipment and other related cargo.
State officials also announced a deal last month between Connecticut’s port authority and New England Central Railroad.
The NECR has leased a five-acre parcel to the authority to accommodate the delivery of wind turbine components to the port.

More Compression For Iroquois Gas Transmission System
Raeanna Haight
Iroquois Gas Transmission System, L.P. (Iroquois) is seeking US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to construct, own, operate, and maintain new natural gas compression and associated facilities at four existing compressor stations in New York and Connecticut, USA, as part of its Expansion By Compression Project.
Iroquois proposes to add 12,000 horsepower (8952 kW) of new compression and associated facilities at its Athens Station in Greene County, and Dover Station in Dutches County, New York. Iroquois proposes to add two new 12,000 hp units at its Brookfield Station in Fairfield County, Connecticut, for a grand total of 48,000 hp (35,808 kW) of new compression facilities. Iroquois proposes to add cooling and related equipment only at its Milford Station in New Haven County, Connecticut. The purpose of this project is to provide a total of 125,000 dekatherms per day of incremental firm transportation service to existing customers.
Specific project details include:
Athens Compressor Station
Iroquois will add one new 12,000 hp Solar Taurus 70 compressor to run in addition to the already existing 10,310 hp (7691 kW) Solar Taurus 70 compressor on site. It will also construct an on skid turbine compressor enclosure installed in an acoustically designed compressor building, a low noise turbine exhaust system which includes oxidation catalyst housing, a low noise turbine air inlet system, a low noise turbine lube oil cooler, a gas cooler, and above-ground and below-grade gas piping.
Dover Compressor Station
The Dover Compressor Station consists of one 17,969 hp (13,405 kW) Siemens Cyclone, with Iroquois proposing to add one 12,000 hp Solar Taurus 70 compressor, an on skid turbine compressor enclosure installed in an acoustically designed compressor building, a low noise turbine exhaust system including oxidation catalyst housing, a low noise turbine air inlet system, a low noise turbine lube oil cooler, a station gas cooler, and aboveground and below grade gas piping.
Brookfield Compressor Station
Iroquois will add two 12,000 hp Solar Taurus 70 compressors to run in addition to the station’s already existing Solar Taurus 60 (7,684 hp [5732 kW]), and Solar Taurus 70 (10,310 hp) compressors. It will also construct a new control/office building, exhaust systems, air inlet systems, lube oil coolers, low noise gas coolers, and piping.
Milford Compressor Station
Iroquois will install new gas cooling equipment to the two existing 10,310 hp Solar Taurus 70 compressor units in the station. It will also build associated piping to allow for compressed discharge gas to be cooled, as no gas cooling facilities currently exist at the Milford compressor station. No new compression will be added.

Riverside Avenue will be closed starting Monday
BRISTOL – Riverside Avenue will be closed starting Monday, April 20, from Blakeslee Street/Memorial Boulevard to Main Street, so Eversource Gas can start installation of a gas line.
The existing gas line is being upgraded due to the State of Connecticut paving schedule for Route 72, which includes Riverside, and the additional hospital load requirements, according to a statement from the Public Works Department.
The project will take approximately eight weeks to complete. Hours of construction will be 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Detours will be in place for eastbound traffic. Traffic will be detoured from Main Street onto South Street.
While there may be minor traffic delays during construction, one lane of westbound traffic will remain open for mail delivery, emergency vehicles, buses, and local traffic at all times. Detour signs will be posted and uniformed traffic personnel will be directing traffic.
For more information, contact Chris Tralli of Eversource Energy at 860-302-6024 or Matt Piette, construction superintendent of GPL Construction, the contractor hired by Eversource to do the project, at 401-575-9028.
Joe Cooper
ey financing for the first phase of the planned $200-million mixed-use development surrounding Hartford’s Dunkin’ Donuts Park was approved Thursday, pushing the project closer to a summer groundbreaking.The Capital Region Development Authority’s (CRDA) board of directors on Thursday afternoon unanimously approved, via teleconference, an $11.8 million low-cost loan for the first phase of the project led by RMS Cos.
The State Bond Commission previously approved a $12-million loan for the DoNo project, but CRDA has already spent $200,000 of those funds to study demolition of the nearby data center structure on Parcel D of the Downtown North (DoNo) property.
In the first phase of development on “Parcel C” along Main Street, RMS plans to build a 270-unit apartment complex, ground-level retail space and a 330-space parking garage on city-owned land flanking the ballpark.
Salvatore recently said the first phase, estimated to cost $46 million, could be completed in 18 months. The development will house up to 1,000 new apartments when the entire project is completed in the next six or so years.
Prior to the meeting, CRDA Executive Director Michael Freimuth told HBJ the developer is expected to break ground sometime this summer.
Randy Salvatore, founder and CEO of RMS, in February said construction could begin sometime in April. However, Freimuth this week suggested the timeline was pushed back due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The project is close to closing with the bank and the equity sources,” Freimuth told the board via conference call Thursday. “The city has worked out the land transfer agreements, the city has worked out a pilot agreement, and we are ready to walk it forward.”
In early March, the city of Hartford signed a development agreement with RMS, which the city selected as its preferred developer for the DoNo parcels, to build the housing and retail development.