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CT Construction Digest Friday September 27, 2019

UPDATED: Route 8 ramp to I-84 WB repaired after ‘structural concerns’ found
WATERBURY — A ramp carrying Route 8 northbound traffic to Interstate 84 westbound reopened Thursday after being closed for about a day because of structural concerns workers discovered on the bridge.
The problem was fixed and access to Exit 33 via Route 8 northbound was restored at about 3:30 p.m., the state Department of Transportation said.
The ramp, which sits on top of Route 8 southbound, is part of the ongoing $153 Mixmaster rehabilitation project.
The right lane of Route 8 northbound has been closed to traffic while the bridge deck is being replaced. The left lane leads to Exit 33 and I-84 westbound. Route 8 traffic destined for points north of the Mixmaster is being diverted around the interchange and onto a temporary bypass that reconnects to mainline Route 8 northbound near Freight Street.
On Wednesday, the lane leading to Exit 33 was closed to traffic after workers found the problem. During the closure, drivers were directed to follow a U-turn at Exit 35 to get onto Route 8 southbound in order to access I-84 westbound.
The newly constructed Route 8 northbound bypass was not affected.

Lamont touts major transportation plans to Stamford Chamber of Commerce
Paul Schott
STAMFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont said in a speech Thursday he wanted to hammer out a deal with state legislators to support major mass-transit upgrades, but it remains unclear the extent to which his long-favored plan to install tolls on state highways would fit into that project.
Improving Connecticut’s aging and congested highways and rail lines represents a cornerstone goal for the Lamont administration, which sees those undertakings as critical to jump-starting the state’s still-sluggish economy. But a bipartisan agreement has so far proved elusive, with Lamont and many Democratic state lawmakers favoring tolls to largely fund the transit projects, and Republican legislators rejecting those fees and instead wanting to tap into more borrowing to finance those initiatives.

“We’ve been addicted to debt for a long time in the state, I think it’s the wrong way to go,” Lamont told about 240 people gathered at the Stamford Hilton hotel for the Stamford Chamber of Commerce’s 32nd annual meeting and awards ceremony. “That’s why I’ve supported the user fees. … I’m ready to make a deal; I’m ready to sit down; I’m ready to reach a compromise. I just want to get this thing going.”
Lamont did not specify how much of the new transit funding he wanted to come from tolls.
At the same time, he cited the potential of below-market federal financing for the infrastructure improvements. Federal transportation officials are advocating for the state to take advantage of such support, he said
“They said ‘This is the time for you to make those investments. We have 2 percent financing available,’” Lamont said. “It’s a unique time for us to be able to do this. We have real partners coming out of Washington, D.C.”
Forging interstate alliances would also be key to tackling the transportation issues, Lamont said. He jokingly described New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as his “new best friend.”
“We are neighboring states, and it’s just absolutely imperative that Connecticut be aligned with New York in so many things, starting with transportation,” Lamont said. “I can fix a couple of bridges, I can do some (rail) signalization, I can take 10, 12, 15 minutes off that commute from Stamford to New York, but I can’t do it if I don’t do it with New York City. (I) can’t do it if I don’t do it with New York.”

Among other issues, Lamont said he was heartened by Stamford’s robust economic performance and the expansion of the University of Connecticut’s downtown campus.“There’s a global search for talent,” he said. “I’ve got to double down and make sure we have the best-trained most productive workforce in the world. We don’t have natural gas and silicon, but we’ve always had the best-trained and most-productive workers.”
Lamont’s remarks appeared to have been well-received, with the first-term Democrat receiving strong applause at the end of his speech.
“We’ve seen very positive progress in the state since he took office,” Heather Cavanagh, Chamber’s CEO and president, told Hearst Connecticut Media after Lamont’s speech. “He’s trying to create partnerships with bordering states such as New York and trying to take a broader perspective. I think it’s really important to have those dialogues and discussions about those issues such as transportation that affect Connecticut and neighboring states. We’re all in this together.”

Lamont announces $13 M in federal grants to assist affordable housing projects

Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration awarded 13 cities and towns a total of $13 million Thursday to finance housing rehabilitation to support low- and moderate-income households.
“These grants go a long way toward improving neighborhoods so that we can make our communities more attractive and encourage continued growth for the benefit of all of our residents,” Lamont said.
The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant  Small Cities program. The distribution of those funds in Connecticut is administered by the state Department of Housing, which awards specific grants.
Without those federal dollars, Connecticut likely would not be able to assist as many low- and moderate income residents as it currently does, said state Housing Commissioner Seila Mosquera-Bruno.
“Whether it’s helping a family to complete essential renovations on their homes such as repairing a leaking roof, making a senior living facility ADA compliant, or improving the habitability of a domestic violence shelter — CDBG Small Cities funding is an important program,” the commissioner said.
Projects eligible for Small Cities program funding must be located within a municipality with fewer than 50,000 residents and must focus on eliminating blight, attracting economic development and on overall neighborhood improvement.
Rehabilitation awards and recipients include:
  • $800,000 for energy and safety related improvements for 23 units at the the Cherry Hill Apartments in Chester. This will include replacement of doors, windows heating pumps and siding, handicapped access upgrades, minor painting and sidewalk and parking repaving.
  • $1 million to create three new handicap code-compliant residential units at CiCia Manor in Derby.
  • $650,000 for handicapped accessibility upgrades and other bathroom improvements at Park Hill in East Windsor.
  • $175,000 for electrical system upgrades at the Green Valley Village and Laurel Park complexes in Enfield.
  • $900,000 for general renovations to New Horizons Village, a Farmington housing community for low- and moderate income residents with disabilities.
  • $1.5 million for handicapped access improvements and other upgrades to Mystic River Homes in Groton.
  • $350,000 for staff to run a shelter diversion program to serve the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network.
  • $700,000 to install highly insulated doors, replace water heaters, install a solar panel and make various site improvements at Stone Craft Manor in Hebron.
  • $1.5 million to support the second phase of upgrades to the Concord Meadows complex in Madison.
  • $1.5 million to modernize the Centerview Village and Woodmoor Manor senior housing complexes in Plainville.
  • $1.1 million to make heating and ventilation improvements and bathroom accessibility renovations to the Harry Stern Center, a 36-unit housing project in Trumbull.
  • $1.3 million for site improvements, roof replacement new windows and lighting, fire alarm upgrades and other improvements at John Savage Common in Wallingford.
  • And $1.5 million to continue modernization of Nathan Hale Terrace, a 100-unit rental community for low- and moderate income households in Windham.
The release of this funding is as expected and does not signal a broader agenda for the Lamont administration surrounding housing. The Department of Housing is, however, considering repurposing how this federal pool of funding is spent but has not provided any details other than to say it is being looked at.
Despite the announcement of these grants, the Lamont administration has yet to release a broad policy agenda surrounding housing. Housing advocates have said Lamont’s proposed “debt diet,” which would restrict state borrowing in several areas, could hinder future affordable housing development.

W. Hartford council OKs senior-housing overhaul
Joe Cooper
West Hartford’s town council has approved redevelopment plans for a nonprofit landlord to raze and remake its 50-year-old, senior-housing community on Starkel Road.
The council’s unanimous approval on Tuesday will allow West Hartford Fellowship Housing to tear down all but one of 24 buildings at the affordable housing complex.
According to plans, the nonprofit will increase its affordable housing capacity from 213 to 300 units after adding six multi-story buildings with 264 new studio and one-bedroom units. The one remaining building contains 44 units.
The nonprofit will also add a new maintenance building in addition to upgrading its existing building, parking areas, landscaping and pedestrian walkways, among other improvements.
“There will be no deleterious change in the character of the area as a result of this redevelopment,” Pearson continued.
The community, spanning over 8 acres on town-owned land, is occupied by those ages 65 and older and individuals with disabilities.
Phased construction is expected to begin next spring and will take at least three years to complete, project officials have said.
It was not immediately clear how much the redevelopment will cost.

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