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CT Construction Digest Friday December 2, 2022

Waterbury, Conn.,Transformation Continues With Mixmaster Project


The transformation of downtown Waterbury, Conn., is taking place with the rehabilitation of 10 bridges that connect Interstate 84 and Route 8.

The Mixmaster, which was opened in 1968, features stacked bridges that the Connecticut Department of Transportation called "an engineering feat that addressed the area's challenging topography." But it also said, "The stacked bridges make both rehabilitation and replacement a complicated endeavor."

While the Mixmaster has undergone multiple major renovations since the late 1960s, it is now being rehabilitated due to deteriorating concrete decks, corroded bearings and joints, section loss in its girders and cracking in critical, non-redundant structures.

It is Walsh Construction's task to fix the problem. The Waterbury firm is the lead contractor on the project that is rehabilitating the 10 bridges by restoring bridge parapets and curbing modifications, repairing deck spalls and overlays, improving bridge drainage and paving new asphalt. The company is repairing the concrete decks and resurfacing them with waterproof membrane, reinforcing the concrete piers and replacing the existing metal bridge rails with a concrete parapet and installing new overhead signage.

To alleviate traffic, a temporary bypass road consisting of three temporary bridge structures and 2,500 linear ft. of on-grade roadway was constructed.

"To date we have replaced the concrete decks in their entirety for Route 8 Northbound and Southbound [Bridges 03190A and 03190B]," said CTDOT. "With the completion of the decks on these two bridges, it was no longer necessary to restrict travel on those bridges so we were able to decommission and remove the temporary bridges."

With the decommissioning of the temporary bridges complete, CTDOT said, "We are currently focused on deck repairs to I-84 Eastbound [Bridge 0319A]. Substructure concrete repairs, steel repairs and bridge drainage replacement are ongoing on all bridges. Construction of the new auxiliary lane on I-84 Westbound is currently under way and should be completed this year. The addition of this auxiliary lane from the Exit 22 onramp to the Exit 21 offramp is a safety improvement to the interchange that is being added to reduce accidents from vehicles merging onto and off the highway. Removal of the temporary bypass includes the reconstruction and reestablishment of Riverside Street that was utilized for a portion of the temporary bypass."

"A ProAll P85 mixer is one of our main pieces of equipment," said Andy Hubina, project manager of Walsh Construction. "So far, we have poured 1,600 cubic yards of concrete to date and another 400 cubic yards estimated. For the bypass construction, we used two main mobile cranes, a Liebherr LTM 1250 and a Manitowoc 1400."

The company also includes a Mactech CP1 pile cutter, a Caterpillar M322D wheeled excavator and a John Deere 470G LC excavator in its equipment list.

Construction started on the Mixmaster project on June 1, 2018, with a completion date of Dec. 1, 2023.

"It's an incentive-laced contract, so there's a chance it will get done before that," said David Ferraro, CTDOT construction project engineer. "The contractor will be penalized for late completion to reduce the impact to the public."

Subcontractors on the project include AFC Construction, New Britain, Conn.; American Concrete Pumping, Portland, Conn.; Diamond Core Drilling, Elyria, Ohio; and Ducci Electrical Contractors, Farmington, Conn.

"With an extensive, multi-year overhaul of the Mixmaster, Waterbury's overlapping highway structure, the city is now the beneficiary of a faster flow of vehicular traffic, while opening more development opportunities for new and existing businesses," said Joe McGrath, Waterbury's economic development director.

The Mixmaster project has a $212 million price tag.

"The contract is split into three separate projects," Ferraro said. "Project No. 0151-0326 is for the Route 8 bridges and the temporary bypass. The project is federally funded at an 80/20 split between the federal government and the state. Project No. 0151-0312 is for the I-84 Eastbound bridge and Project No. 1051-0313 is the for I-84 Westbound bridge. These two projects are funded at a 90/10 split between the federal government and the state."

CTDOT said, "When completed, this rehabilitation is expected to extend the life of the Mixmaster for up to 25 years." CEG

Hanna Snyder Gambini

Target Corporation will occupy a new warehouse on the Great Pond development campus along Windsor’s Day Hill Road corridor.

NorthPoint Development Group has signed Target as a tenant for a new 530,000-square-foot industrial building at 500 Groton Road.

This is a scaled-down version of earlier plans calling for a 750,000-square-foot warehouse that was being built by NorthPoint without a secured tenant.

The online pet food and supply company Chewy had shown interest in the warehouse, but plans did not come to fruition. 

A Target spokesman confirmed this week that the company has plans to open a supply chain facility in Windsor “in the coming years to support Target’s continued growth.”

Windsor Economic Development Director Patrick McMahon said a Target distribution center is an ideal use for this site, bringing in jobs and a boost to nearby businesses. 

The Day Hill Road corridor, he added, was designed using form-based code to accommodate such industrial and logistical projects.

Plans for a similar 525,000-square-foot Target distribution center drew criticism from residents in Westfield, Mass., who were mainly concerned with truck traffic near residential neighborhoods.

McMahon said town officials have no such concerns with a Target distribution center because the Day Hill Road area was designed for these exact uses, and the corridor offers convenient access from Interstate 91 right to Day Hill Road, avoiding the need for trucks to pass through neighborhoods or downtown areas. 

With the form-based code, as long as development plans fit in with the outline of the area, the Target project will not need town land use board approvals.

The Target warehouse is a partnership between Winstanley Enterprises and NorthPoint Development, and part of the Great Pond industrial project within the massive 650-acre Great Pond Village that will include housing, open space, retail storefronts, warehouses, bioscience and data centers. 

Also along the Day Hill Road corridor, Columbus, Ohio-based Safelite Group, parent company of Safelite AutoGlass brand, has signed a long-term lease to occupy 165,625 square feet in the Baker Hollow Logistics Center, at 105 Baker Hollow Road.

The Baker Hollow Road center is still under construction but should be completed by the end of the year. 

Target officials did not provide details of the lease or a project timeline.

Phase I of Energy & Innovation Park Project officially begins in New Britain

Ciara Hooks

NEW BRITAIN – Phase I of The Energy & Innovation Park Project kicked off Thursday morning at the former Stanley Black & Decker facility.

“We’re very pleased to announce that we’ve recently closed our transaction with Generate Capital and they will be owner and operator of the fuel cell project which is being built by O&G,” said Mark Wick, manager, EIP Investment.

EIP Investment is a developer involved in the redevelopment of this site; O&G Industries will be the construction company for the project; and Bloom Energy will be making the fuel cell units.

“Construction, or more appropriately demolition, has started on the project which means that tax revenue for the city and job creation has also started on the site; much better than empty buildings,” Wick said.

When Stanley Works operated out of these buildings the area used to be a thriving hub of activity for decades.

“While they are certainly iconic, this site has unfortunately been vacant since the early 1990s,” Mayor Erin Stewart said. “We are starting to see a resurgence of the Myrtle Street corridor and this project will play a major role in making sure that continues. You may have heard me say that New Britain is experiencing a metamorphosis unlike anything in decades and that the transformation can be felt in almost every corner of our city. Well, this movement what we’re celebrating today epitomizes that sentiment perfectly.”

The first phase of this project, which officially kicked off, focuses on providing clean energy to the electrical grid while laying the ground work for major economic development through the installation of a 20 megawatt fuel cell power plant.

“80,000 square feet of the blue building you see behind me will be completely demolished to make room for 67 hydrogen fuel cell units from Bloom Energy, which is based in California. That means that this is an all-American-made project,” Stewart said.

These fuel cells are efficient and capable of generating up to 300 kilowatts per unit. They generate energy without combustion through the use of an ultraclean electrochemical reaction.

“By itself Phase I is impressive in its scale and scope, as well as the ingenuity of its design,” Stewart said. “That being said the truly exciting aspect of this project is its potential to serve as the foundation for transformative economic development in New Britain, creating over 600 new jobs in the first year and generating nearly $250,000 in tax revenue each year over the next 20 years.”

According to Stewart, if all goes as planned the fuel cell farm will take about two years to install with the completion being sometime in the first quarter of 2024.

“These fuel cells being here will ensure that this entire area is primed for innovative redevelopment that will contribute to the revitalization of this area and the entire city well into the future,” Stewart said.

Wick said EIP is committed to seeking redevelopment opportunities for the remainder of the site working with their partners to develop the additional parcels consistent with the goals of the many stakeholders that are involved.

The Beam, a 203-unit apartment complex in New London, moves towards completion

Johana Vazquez

New London ― Built on a once vacant site in the Fort Trumbull area, a five-story, 203-unit apartment building on Howard Street is moving towards completion.

After a little more than a year of construction, the approximately $30 million project is almost halfway done and leasing is expected to start soon.

The developer, New Haven-based commercial real estate development company RJ Development + Advisors, has given it the name The Beam. Jason Rudnick, principal of the development company, said the apartments will offer the community, security and convenience someone would want in the city.

The development is down the road from The Docks Apartments, a 137-unit apartment complex, opened in 2021 at the corner of Howard and Bank streets. It is also across Howard Street from a proposed 81-unit apartment complex that was approved by the city in September. In Fort Trumbull, the city has approved another 100 apartments. Work on the latter two projects has not yet begun.

Rudnick said “The Beam” is a reference to a nautical term that describes the width of a ship and is a nod to the area’s shipbuilding and maritime history.

“We spent significant time and effort with ourselves to determine something that was meaningful,” he said.

The apartments are set to have 57 studio units, 116 one-bedroom units, 17 one-bedroom units with an office space and 13 two-bed apartments. Rudnick said all will be priced at market rate but the pricing is not yet public.

Rudnick said the company is working with the city to get safety and building certifications for 92 of the units by year’s end and looking to move residents in by February or March of next year.

He said the remaining 111 units could be completed by then and turned over to residents sometime in March or April.

The development is the largest in the state so far to take advantage of federal Opportunity Zone tax incentives authorized in 2017 to bolster low-income communities.

The federal government in 2018 approved 72 opportunity zones in Connecticut, including three in New London.

Although the five-story development is developed as an Opportunity Zone project, Rudnick said it would have worked without it. He said the federal tax incentives were not the driving force to purse the project.

Rudnick said he is a huge fan of the city and it has been more than enjoyable working with the community and the city. He said he is looking to deliver the building and maintaining a relationship with the city.

“It’s important to me,” he said.

Rudnick said his father-in-law grew up in New London and he has made trips to Ocean Beach Park ever since he moved to Connecticut 25 years ago.

“There’s a need for housing in New London and the region with the growth of Electric Boat, Lawrence + Memorial Hospital and the rising off-shore wind industry,” he said. “We’re happy to do our small part.”

Rudnick said he is very proud of the design and amenities going into the development.

On the outside, Rudnick said the complex will have a dog walk park and walking trails to the Electric Boat headquarters and the intersection of Shaw and Howard streets.

On the inside, Rudnick said the apartments will have a fitness center with the newest equipment; a community room with a fireplace and pool table; a business center with private cubicle space and conference rooms.

He said there will be an outside deck on the fifth floor only for residents with “extensive views” of Shaw’s Cove, the Thames River and Downtown New London.

The apartment units will have a list of amenities such as high ceilings, quartz counter tops, LED undermount cabinet lighting, heating and cooling systems, and in-unit washer and dryers.