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CT Construction Digest Friday December 3, 2020

New Fairfield selects project manager for school construction
Kendra Baker
NEW FAIRFIELD — Not only has a firm been selected to manage the town’s $113.4 million school construction plan, but reimbursement for the projects has slightly increased.
The Permanent Building Committee chose Colliers Project Leaders to oversee the construction of an $84.2 million new high school and a $29.2 million early learning academy.
The projects were approved by taxpayer vote back in October.
The committee picked Colliers to provide project management services during its Dec. 23 meeting — about two weeks after choosing Hartford-based JCJ Architecture for architectural services.
Contracts with Colliers and JCJ are being finalized and should be ready for approval by the Permanent Building Committee’s Jan. 14 meeting, said the school district’s business and operations director, Rich Sanzo.
There has also been a slight increase in reimbursement rates for the projects, Sanzo said.
Reimbursement for the $29,185,907 learning academy project has increased from 38 to 38.22 percent, while the rate for the $84,214,908 high school project has increased from 27.86 to 28.22 percent, he said.
With the new rates, the total cost to the town for the learning academy would be approximately $18,031,054, while the total cost to the town for the high school would be approximately $60,451,461.
Sanzo said the change in reimbursement rates is due in part to a change in the town’s Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List per Capita rank — a measure of wealth used in education funding formulas that looks at property tax base and income per person.
The learning academy project will involve 44,000 square-feet of new construction, modifications to the Meeting House Hill School, replacement of the bus lot and demolition of the existing Consolidated Elementary School.
Work on the high school will involve 143,000 square-feet of new construction, field replacements, locker room renovations and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades.
Sanzo said the district also recently learned that both school projects have been placed on the Office of School Construction Grants & Review’s School Construction Priority List.
“This critical step towards receiving a school construction grant commitment from the state is a testament to the early and ongoing partnership town and school officials have with the OSCGR,” he said.

DOT: 2-year Route 8 lane closure to cause ‘significant traffic impact’ at Mixmaster
Jim Shay
A southbound lane of Route at Waterbury’s Mixmaster will be closed for two years starting Sunday, the state Department of Transportation has announced.
And that may cause “significant traffic impacts” due to the Exit 19 ramp (from I-84 westbound to Route 8 southbound) also being closed, DOT said.
The closure is needed to continue construction work (concrete bridge deck replacement) associated with the Route 8/I-84 Interchange (Mixmaster) rehabilitation project.
“With high traffic volumes, especially during rush hour, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is urging motorists to seek alternative routes if possible,” DOT said.
The $153 million project consists of the rehabilitation of numerous bridges located within the Route 8 and I-84 interchange. The purpose is to preserve and provide a 25-year service life to the structures and to assure their structural integrity. The project consists of deck repairs and replacements, steel repairs, substructure repairs, joint repairs, and other general repairs.
A temporary bypass was built consisting of three temporary bridges (two over the Naugatuck River and one over Freight Street) to carry Route 8 northbound traffic through the Interchange. This bypass will be in effect for three years.
For more information on the project, visit

Toll opponents tell Lamont: ‘We aren’t going away’
Christine Stuart
HARTFORD — Toll opponents gathered inside the state Capitol Thursday seeking to remind Gov. Ned Lamont and lawmakers that they oppose truck-only tolls.
Patrick Sasser, co-founder of No Tolls CT, said they were at the Capitol to remind Lamont that they are opposed to tolls, even if they’re only on trucks.
“We want to make sure that he’s aware we aren’t going away on this issue,” Sasser said.
Lamont was arriving back to Connecticut Thursday and was not expected at his state Capitol office.
Sasser’s group has been a constant presence at the state Capitol. At least one member of the group is at the state Capitol daily to greet the governor and lawmakers, who aren’t in session until February.
Sasser said truck-only tolls is just the beginning. He said no one trusts Connecticut government to keep a tolling system limited to trucks.
“With a push of a button they can then begin tolling all the cars on the road,” Sasser added.
Lamont, who campaigned on truck-only tolls, quickly abandoned that proposal last year for a tolling plan that included all vehicles. Unable to get that plan through the Democrat-controlled legislature, Lamont and Democratic lawmakers settled on a truck-only toll proposal similar to what’s been implemented in Rhode Island.
Democratic lawmakers and Lamont agreed to put forward a truck-only toll plan with some sort of bond covenant that would prevent tolling of passenger vehicles.
Legislative drafts to implement a truck-only tolling proposal are currently being circulated among legislative leaders. The plan is for the legislature to hold a special session later this month to finalize one.
The plan assumes $180 million in revenue from truck-only tolls in 12 locations, and it would require the use of another $100 million in general obligation bonds. It would also use money in the Rainy Day Fund to pay down pension debt if that account grows beyond 15% of the General Fund.
The Democratic plan assumes leveraging federal funds at low interest rates based on the truck-only toll revenue. The plan also stretches out the repayment of the debt on those federal loans from 27 years to 35 years.

Demolition of E. Hartford's blighted Showcase Cinemas delayed
Vin Gallo
EAST HARTFORD -- Completion of the blighted Showcase Cinemas demolition on Silver Lane will take longer than expected, due to workers finding more hazardous materials at the site than expected.
However, town officials’ spirits haven’t dampened on the potential of the soon-to-be vacant land that’s visible from Interstate 84.
The razing of the building began in November, and work should finish sometime in January, town officials said.
“Presently, the demolition was to be completed by year-end, but the final removal of the foundation revealed some additional abatement is necessary,” Mayor Marcia Leclerc said this week. “As a result, approximately two weeks have been added to the wrap-up.”
Leclerc said the demolition of the long-deserted cinemas is a positive occurrence for the town and that officials are optimistic about the town-owned real estate that will be freed once the 66,000-square-foot building is completely razed.
As first reported by Hartford Business Journal, the town acquired the land a year ago for $3.3 million.
The cinemas closed in 2006 and the vacant property has slowly decayed and become an eyesore in the past 13 years. In September, the Town Council awarded Cherry Hill Construction Inc. of North Branford, an $800,000 contract to raze the building.
Kehoe said conversation amongst officials for how the land could be utilized once it’s cleared hasn’t changed much. In the months leading up to the building’s demolition, dialogue involved making the area pedestrian-friendly. This included ideas to develop residential areas with space for retail and restaurants, though planning is preliminary.

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