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CT Construction Digest Thursday January 30, 2020

Attend the Hearing!
The Transportation Committee is holding a PUBLIC HEARING
This Friday, January 31, 2020
1:00 PM
Room 1E
Legislative Office Building
LCO #373 "An Act Concerning the Sustainability of Connecticut's Transportation Infrastructure

Winstanley planning major lab space building in downtown New Haven
Mary E. O’Leary
NEW HAVEN — Winstanley Enterprises LLC, a major biotech developer in the city, has plans to bring lab incubator space to a building that would sit in front of Alexion on reclaimed land from Route 34.
For sometime, the city and Yale University officials have hoped that Carter Winstanley would come through to help fill the gap in laboratory space needed in New Haven for new research companies that are now at capacity or soon will be as the life sciences sector continues to grow in New Haven.
The city, in the past, has counted on lab projects developed by Winstanley who filled up 300 George St. with companies in four years, after it sat empty for a decade. Now Alexion at 100 College St., built by Winstanley, soon will be filled, and there is a lack of space at Science Park, which he also developed.
Economic Development Administrator Michael Piscitelli said the city has had a memorandum of understanding since the spring with Winstanley for another building that would be a minimum of 350,000 square feet, although it could be bigger, that would add a significant amount of lab space.
Other uses, such as traditional offices, would also be part of the construction, as will a public plaza.
Piscitelli said the negotiations have been positive, but some technical details are still being worked out as are equitable employment concerns. Ultimately the project would have to be approved by the Board of Alders, City Plan and the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
“It is a significant opportunity for the city,” he said, given the $800 million neuroscience center approved for the St. Raphael’s campus of Yale New Haven Hospital and the success of such companies as Biohaven and Arvinas, both of whom have gone public. These successes continue to attract more development. Yale University’s Office of Cooperative Research has attracted an average of 10 venture-backed startups in the last three years. A total of 75 companies have emerged in the last 15 years from research at Yale, with 50 in the New Haven area, according Jon Soderstrom, who directs the OCR.
The office, which is the university’s tech transfer department, takes faculty innovations and research and connects them to venture capital opportunities to develop commercial products or services. Soderstrom recently said the university continues to have a robust pipeline of businesses moving up from startups.
The city is currently in construction on Phase 2 of the Downtown Crossing which has been reclaiming the land that was the Route 34 corridor. Alexion was the first building constructed on the new acreage.
Phase 2, which extends Orange Street across Route 34, is currently in construction, while phase 3 will extend Temple Street to the Hill, connecting it to downtown.
Piscitelli said the city, in any final agreement, would work in tandem with Winstanley on the Phase 3 portion. Phase 2 is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021, while Phase 3 will start at the end of 2020 and take two years to complete. Some aspects of both phases have been blended to make up for the $20 million federal grant, which was half of what the city had sought.
The address of the new building would be 101 College St., in front of Alexion at 100 College St.
Winstanley has traditionally had commitments from companies that need this expensive laboratory build-out before investing in it, but that need has been confirmed by Yale and the city for a long time.
Another recent positive development for the growth of the life sciences was the purchase of the 145,000-square-foot former Higher One headquarters on Munson Street by a joint venture of Twining Properties, L+M Development Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group which plans to put $25 million into renovations with labs possible in some 75,000 square feet of the structure.

Lamont has a trucks-only tolls plan. Trade groups on both sides have questions.
Two trade associations on opposite sides of the highway toll debate share some doubts about claims being made about the latest truck-only tolling plan.
One of the most recent and biggest surrounds a statement from Gov. Ned Lamont last week that Connecticut could simultaneously put up toll gantries on the approaches to 12 targeted bridges across the state.
The presidents of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut and the Connecticut Construction Industries Association both questioned if that could be done.
Joe Sculley, president of MTAC, said it is highly unlikely, and Don Shubert, president of CCIA, said it is hard to judge without funding and project schedules for each proposed bridge improvement project.
MTAC opposes the latest plan to toll heavy commercial trucks to finance the rehabilitation or replacement of the 12 targeted bridges. The CCIA preferred an earlier proposal to toll cars and trucks at 50 location on five major highways, but supports the limited tolling plan on the table now.
The working assumption is the state government will start collecting tolls starting in mid-2022. Lamont cited an estimated that tolls are expected to net $180 million a year.
SCULLEY IS SKEPTICAL the 12 tolling locations can be built at the same time because he said he doubts all necessary federal requirements can be met as quickly as Lamont made out.
For one, Sculley said, environmental assessments will be required for each site. Also, he said the state will have to submit an investment grade traffic and tolling study to determine if enough trucks will continue to use the tolled bridges to repay construction bonds.
Sculley and Shubert questioned the ability of state Department of Transportation to develop, design and deliver the tolling projects on top of its other construction management responsibilities.
“It just doesn’t seem like they have the time, money or manpower to get 12 gantries up all at the same time. I just don’t see that happening,” Sculley said.
“I’d love to see the schedule, a schedule of just the funding and the project development because you really won’t know a lot until you see those,” Shubert said.
Sculley observed the state of Rhode Island has experienced unexpected delays in the completion of 12 truck-only toll gantries there. The state and federal governments executed all the required tolling agreements in September 2016.
In December, only five gantries were in operation in Rhode Island. The first two tolling locations went live in June 2018. Rhode Island officials had been anticipating building the remaining 10 at a pace of one gantry a month starting in the spring of 2019.
In mid-January, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Riamondo submitted a budget recommendation for upcoming fiscal year that assumed $44 million in revenue from a fully operational network of truck-only bridge tolls.
THE PLAN IN CONNECTICUT is to use truck tolls to secure an anticipated $1.5 billion in low-interest federal loans through the Transportation Infrastructure and Innovation Act to help finance the 12 planned bridge improvement projects.
Sculley said he is also doubtful that Connecticut can secure TIFIA loans for all 12 projects at once. He said he is suspect of the estimate that the truck-only tolls will raise $180 million annually to go toward repaying those loans.
“I think the only numbers that exist are what I call back of the napkin calculations, which do not meet the standards of what you need for a TIFIA loan,” he said. “You need to do investment grade traffic and revenue studies that take six months. They do not have what they need for a TIFIA loan.”
The CCIA’s Shubert said the TIFIA loans appear a viable funding option, but he also questioned if the anticipated toll revenue will be sufficient.
He cited a DOT analysis from October 2019 that calculated annual state funding levels currently fall $400 million of the estimated $2 billion needed to maintain the highway and mass transit systems in a state of good repair. He said there is still a funding gap with the estimated $180 million in toll revenue.
The Democrat-controlled legislature appears poised to approve the 12-only truck tolls early next week, and approval of the long-delayed bonding package is expected to quickly follow. Lamont and Democratic leaders have agreed to bond $1.7 billion a year, including an extra $100 million for transportation spending.

Alex Bergstein (opinion): Dems’ proposals ‘modest and short-sighted’
Senate Democrats recently unveiled their caucus priorities at a series of press events in Hartford. These priorities were determined primarily by the caucus leader, Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney. While I agree with many of the proposals, I did not attend these press events because I think the agenda fails to address the biggest issues facing our state and country. In my opinion, the Senate Democrats’ agenda does not adequately address urgent issues for Connecticut such as: attracting businesses and creating jobs, fixing our crumbling infrastructure and reversing the exodus of taxpayers. Nor does it adequately address the top priorities for our country which include mitigating unsustainable health care costs and environmental
While I support my colleagues’ efforts to advance good legislation, I’m disappointed that the proposed solutions are so modest and short-sighted.
When we face a true existential crisis — such as the Climate Crisis — why is the Agenda silent? The only environmental proposal is “Protecting Water from Lead & Harmful PFAS.” I introduced a bill last year, SB78, to ban PFAS so I clearly support this idea, but it’s just one of many urgent problems we must fix. What about reducing our reliance on fossil fuels? Carbon pricing is a hot topic that gained wide support at the World Economic Forum in Davos (and the subject of another bill I introduced in 2019 — SB74 ) but it doesn’t show up anywhere on the caucus agenda. Shouldn’t we be setting state environmental priorities based on global priorities as well as pushing back on the gutting of environmental protections occurring at the federal level?
Another problem with the agenda is that some proposed solutions are too limited in scope. For instance, the proposal regarding domestic violence is to “expand Civil Gideon, create a bench book (for judges) and require proper training (for judges).” That’s good, but it’s a partial solution that may actually solidify the status quo. A few weeks ago, I proposed a comprehensive solution to address issues experienced by victims of abuse in every part of Connecticut. It’s called the Child Safety First bill and is based in part on House Congressional Resolution 72, which passed with bipartisan support in 2018. It tackles a range of problems including awarding child custody to abusers and the legal definition of Domestic Violence, which is so narrow in Connecticut that many victims are not believed when they ask the courts for protection. Shouldn’t we design a system that believes victims? And craft solutions based on best practices and the recommendations of Congress?
And finally, some of the caucus “solutions” are not solutions at all because they create an entirely new set of problems. For this reason, I remain firmly opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana. Until we have reliable detection technology and the ability to regulate the safety and use of this dangerous substance, which often falls into the hands of young people, damages brains and destroys lives, I cannot support full legalization. Marijuana is already legal for medicinal purposes in Connecticut and is decriminalized for small amounts. That’s far enough, in my opinion.
The 2020 legislative session lasts just three months, from Feb. 5 through May 6. Individuals cannot introduce bills, only committees can. I hope we accomplish more than modest changes. My mission is to tackle the biggest issues and steer us toward a future of opportunity, equality, health and prosperity for all. And in a continued quest for government transparency and accountability, I’m also proposing term limits for legislators. Because no individual should have the power to control our state or country. Democracy relies on all of us.

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