DOT Awards More Than $75 Million In Project Work To Connecticut Builders
By DON STACOM
April 04, 2012
Connecticut builders and trade unions were the winners Tuesday when the state transportation department awarded more than $75 million in contracts for the New-Britain-to-Hartford busway.
The DOT has been on the verge of awarding the contracts for more than a week, and its selections were not linked to recent complaints from two state labor unions.
Just days ago, union leaders complained that Connecticut contractors and union shops were missing out on work from the $569 million busway project.
Middlesex Corp., a nonunion Massachusetts company, recently landed a $130 million contract, the single biggest component of the busway. The DOT has defended the Middlesex deal, saying in a statement Tuesday that the company "has handled many Connecticut projects and has consistently hired Connecticut workers on those projects."
The latest agreements announced Tuesday were far more welcome, said Charles LeConche, business manager of the Connecticut Laborers District Council. They went to three union companies, including two with headquarters in the state.
"These are companies that have paid their dues in Connecticut. They employ people from Connecticut, they buy products here," LeConche said.
A band of Republican legislators opposing the project was less upbeat.
"We're happy for the jobs that will be going to Connecticut workers. But one reason for doing the busway was the promise of 4,000 jobs -- clearly that's one goal we'll fall woefully short of," said state Rep. Whit Betts, R-Bristol. "It's a great disappointment."
Plainville-based Manafort Brothers won $36.2 million in contracts to build the main terminal and a 0.7-mile stretch of the busway in downtown New Britain along with a new Broad Street bridge over the busway in Hartford.
A joint venture of North Haven-based Empire Paving and the Schiavone Construction Co. LLC of New Jersey landed a $39.4 million contract to build stations at East Street and at East Main Street in New Britain. The job also includes paving a 2-mile section of the busway between Stanley Street in New Britain and Cedar Street in Newington, and replacement of the Cedar Street bridge over the busway.
Last year, Empire got two smaller contracts for the busway worth a total of about $14 million.
The transportation department hasn't publicly specified how many jobs it expects each contract will create, or how long they'll last. But it estimates the overall project will generate 4,000 construction jobs and 100 permanent ones.
The DOT expects to begin heavy construction work later this spring and says service will begin in late 2014. The state is awaiting a final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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