e-Regional Reporter — May 5, 2006
Edited by Christina Fisher -- May 8, 2006
Sacramento, Calif. – According to Caltrans, California's department of transportation, the agency removed some 11.6 million pounds of trash from roadways in 2005. The tab for picking up and hauling all that debris is about $40 million — each year. To educate the public concerning illegal dumping and the prevention of littering, Caltrans has chosen a new coordinator for this effort. The new leader is James Lawrence, a veteran of Caltrans since 1988. He will be working with nonprofit organizations as well as other state agencies to consider ways to reduce this unsightly, expensive, continuing problem.
Loren Faulkner, editor
Concord, N.C. – Haas CNC Racing is considering Concord as the site of a new $40-million wind tunnel project. The Cabarrus County Economic Development Corp. is recommending to county commissioners that they offer an incentive package to help land the project. The wind tunnel, which EDC Chief Executive Officer John Cox describes as "a rolling road wind tunnel, like a treadmill for cars," could be used for testing by auto and racing companies. (The Charlotte Observer)
Raleigh, N.C. – North Carolina's transportation system remains stuck in reverse, with the projected shortfall between anticipated revenues and identified needs over the next 25 years now amounting to $30 billion. NC Go! Announced its plan today to "fill the gap" in transportation funding, shortly before presenting the plan to the Joint Legislative Transportation Oversight Committee. The plan, divided into short, intermediate and long-term action items, calls on policymakers to focus on five key points:
Christina Fisher, editor
Minneapolis, Minn. – The Minnesota Senate Finance committee approved a proposal for a new on-campus football stadium for the University of Minnesota after eliminating two key funding sources — naming rights revenue and student fees — and calling on the state to fill the gap. The approved plan would shift the burden to the state by requiring a new statewide sports-related tax to replace a $35-million naming rights agreement with TCF Financial Corp. and roughly $50 million in planned student fees. Under the revised plan, the state would pay $12.9 million a year for 25 years. The House bill allows the university to keep its naming rights deal with TCF, but did reduce the contribution from student fees through a land-swap deal. The university would sell the state a large plot of land in Rosemount for about $2 million a year, in turn reducing student fees from $50 a semester to $25. Under the House plan, the state would pay $9.4 million a year for toward the stadium.
Duluth, Minn. – Starting on Monday, May 8, 2006, all heavy vehicles will be unable to enter Duluth via northbound I-35. Crews from Bauerly Brothers Corp. will make major repairs to this side of the freeway between Boundary Ave. and Central Ave. for approximately two weeks. All vehicles inbound on I-35 having a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 10-tons or more will be detoured to Midway Road, Becks Road and Grand Ave. (Highway 23) and back to I-35. All heavy vehicles destined for I-35 from eastbound Highway 2 will be required to follow the same detour route. According to MnDOT project engineer Dave Mavec, this special detour is necessary to insure the safety of workers during the repair. Law enforcement officers will be randomly monitoring traffic in this work zone to insure that heavy vehicles comply with the well-marked detours. For further information contact Dave Mavec at , extension 3405.
St. Paul, Minn. – Xcel Energy broke ground on April 21 for a natural gas plant to replace the coal-burning plant located for over 80 years at the High Bridge. The $395- million natural gas plant will be smaller but will produce twice as much energy as the current plant and will eliminate mercury and about two-thirds of the carbon dioxide. The company hopes to have the new plant operating in 2008, then will demolish the old plant, including the smokestack. St. Paul's mayor and state senator, Xcel Energy officials, representatives of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce attended the groundbreaking. The conversion from coal to natural gas at the High Bridge plant is part of Xcel's $1-billion effort to reduce pollution at three plants in the Twin Cities area.
Ivy Chang, editor
LaPorte, Ind. – Plans to resurface sections of three highways and one interstate in LaPorte County are on the fast track, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation. The following four areas will receive more than $13.5 million in significant upgrades that will extend the life of the pavement and provide a smooth riding surface: Interstate 94 (from U.S. 20 to the Michigan state line); U.S. 30 (from U.S. 421 to S.R. 39); U.S. 30 (from S.R. 39 to 3.14 miles east of U.S. 35); and U.S. 6 (from U.S. 421 to west junction with U.S. 35).
Frankfort, Ky. – Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher ceremoniously signed primary seat belt legislation during the recent Kentucky Lifesavers Conference in Louisville. House Bill 117 also includes a provision that requires children under the age of 16 to wear helmets when riding an all terrain vehicle.
Hammond, Ind. – Harrah's Entertainment has announced plans for a $485-million renovation and expansion of its Horseshoe Casino in Hammond. Building the massive new casino, with 170,000 square feet on two levels, will displace all the boats in the Hammond Marina next year.
Louisville, Ky. – The final link to the city's Waterfront Park has been acquired. Waterfront Development Corp. has recently closed its purchase of 3.5 acres located at 903 E. River Road — the sole remaining property to be acquired for the planned 85-acre Waterfront Park. The city began acquiring scrap yards and sand and salt storage lots along the river in the early 1990s, with Waterfront Park's Phase 1 opening in July 1999 and Phase 2 opening in June 2004. Construction for the $21-million Phase 3 began in January 2005 and is expected to be complete in 2008.
St. Louis – S.M. Wilson & Co. recently completed construction of a $57-million high school and middle school addition/renovation for Alton Community Unit School District. The bulk of the project involved expanding and renovating the existing J.B. Johnson Career Development Center to create the district's new 400,000-square-foot high school.
Tom Hale, editor
New Orleans – The Louisiana AGC will host Rebuild Louisiana Forum — A Contractor's Perspective June 2-3 at the Intercontinental Hotel in New Orleans. Guest speakers include AGC of America Chief Economist Ken Simonson, LADOTD Secretary John Bradberry, Louisiana Recovery Authority Executive Director Andy Koplin, and State Office of Facility Planning & Control Director Jerry Jones. Representatives from parishes recovering from last year's hurricanes will also be available to discuss the challenges they face in restoring their infrastructures. For more information, visit www.lagc.org.
Oklahoma City – The creation of a $100-million bridge fund by the Legislature has made it possible to move up the replacement of two wooden bridges in Kiowa County. Located on SH-44, the two bridges were originally constructed in 1932. They were slated for replacement in 2011, but the Oklahoma Transportation Commission has approved new construction and awarded the bids to Klaver Construction Co. of Kingman, Kansas, the low bidder on the project. The two SH-44 bridges are the first construction awards approved under the new funding. The commission also approved $1.5 million for extensive statewide inspection of all truss bridges. Under the project, 65 bridges not scheduled for reconstruction will be inspected.
Lisa Doyle, editor
King of Prussia, Pa. – On May 2, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation opened the newly built flyover ramp that takes southbound Route 309 Expressway motorists to the Pennsylvania Turnpike. PennDOT built this new exit ramp as part of its project to rebuild and improve the Route 309 Expressway interchange with the turnpike. This interchange improvement is associated with the state's $330-million reconstruction of the 10-mile-long expressway in Lower Gwynedd Township. PennDOT began construction at the interchange in January 2005 and is scheduled to finish in fall 2008. Under the $82.6-million contract to rebuild the interchange, crews are building new ramps, widening Route 309 to add lanes for turnpike-bound drivers, building a temporary railroad bridge and a new railroad bridge over the expressway for Norfolk Southern Railroad, and rebuilding Route 309 through the interchange. The general contractor for the interchange construction is the joint venture of Nyleve Bridge Corporation of Emmaus, Pa. and James D. Morrissey, Inc. of Philadelphia. In addition to rebuilding the interchange, PennDOT has two additional construction contracts in progress on Route 309: an $88.4million contract to rebuild the expressway between Cheltenham Avenue and Route 73, and a $57.9 contract to rebuild the expressway between Route 73 and Highland Avenue.
Matthew Phair, editor
Gainesville, Ga. – The Georgia DOT is continuing work on the reconstruction of the I-85 and State Route 316 interchange and extension of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane system in Gwinnett County. Early this week, crews removed the camera poles from the interstate, and overnight work has allowed installation of temporary barrier wall around the Old Norcross Road Bridge. Controlled blasting has also begun along the southbound shoulder of I-85. The overall projected completion date on this project is December 31, 2008 and its construction cost is over $147million.
Altamonte Springs, Fla. – Roger B. Kennedy, Inc. has completed the design/build of the $2.24 million NTC Medical Plaza located in Clermont, Fla., for developer, SkyTop Enterprises, LLC. The Evans Group provided architectural design services to the Kennedy organization for the two-story, 20,000-square-foot medical office building. The project was completed in six months on schedule. Subcontractor team members include: TLC Concrete, Welkers Electric, Forum Construction, Team Plumbing Company, Century Heating & A/C, Klem Drywall, Regal Painting, Spectra Contract Flooring, Lake Glass & Mirror, and Wrightway Enterprises.
Natick, Mass. – According to The 2006-2009 State DOT Market for Design & Construction Firms, a new report from ZweigWhite, Florida and Georgia should be among the six hottest markets for design and construction firms that work with state departments of transportation over the next three years. "Work for design and construction firms with state departments of transportation is on the rise again as state DOTs begin to see the funding increases provided by the new six-year federal transportation bill that was passed last August," says Christopher Klein, a principal with ZweigWhite. "The highway and bridge market is poised to have the best performance of any market sector for design and construction firms in 2006 and beyond, but growth should be particularly robust in the six states we have identified in the report." According to the report, the Florida Department of Transportation has been one of the hottest state DOT markets for some time now, and it shows no signs of cooling off anytime soon. Florida is in the midst of a population boom, and hurricane damage incurred during the 2004 and 2005 seasons has increased the need for improvements and capacity expansion. The department expects to increase its reliance on design and environmental consulting firms to deliver these projects. The workload in the state is so great that the Florida Department of Transportation is struggling with finding enough qualified design and construction firms to compete on projects. The report also notes that the outlook for work with the Georgia Department of Transportation continues to be very bright as more design and environmental work is being done by outside consultants and the volume of projects with the department increases. The percentage of design and environmental work outsourced to consulting firms is expected to increase to about 60 percent by 2009. The new federal transportation bill provides a 30 percent increase in highway funding for Georgia, and the Georgia Highway Contractors Association is projecting that bid lettings in FY 2006 will hit record levels.
Steve Hudson, editor
Lansing – Top public and private organizations signed an agreement on April 27 to formalize training that will continue to improve the quality of Michigan's roads and bridges. The Michigan Construction Quality Partnership for Transportation Charter was signed during a meeting of the Michigan State Transportation Commission in Lansing. This agreement is intended to fulfill the requirements of the customer — drivers on Michigan's roads — by continuing to provide a durable, smooth, safe, aesthetically pleasing, environmentally sensitive, efficient, and economical highway system, said Glenn Bukoski, P.E., vice president of engineering services for the Michigan Infrastructure & Transportation Association (MITA). MITA, a statewide trade association that represents over 750 road and bridge construction companies, signed the agreement along with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and six other organizations.
Aram Kalousdian, editor
Kansas City, Mo. – Kansas City building giant J.E. Dunn Construction is the design-builder on the new H&R Block World Headquarters, a $140-million downtown project that includes an 18-story office tower, a five-level underground parking garage, and a three-story low-rise. "When we started digging the hole, we were still in design development," said J.E. Dunn Project Manager Trent Wachsnicht. "That was done to help speed up the process." Work began in September of 2004, and though underground utility issues hampered construction early, it will be 100 percent complete by mid-October.
"When we started work, we found fiber optic line running right through the middle of the project and it took us about six months to get that removed," Wachsnicht said. "The owner couldn't change the end date because of lease obligations. That shortened the front end by six months but the back end stayed the same." J.E. Dunn has overcome the challenges and is ahead of schedule. One important factor in helping J.E. Dunn stick to its schedule was that the office tower and underground parking garage were separated. "Initially, the tower was going to be built over part of the parking structure," Wachsnicht said. "We were able to pull the garage out from under the tower so we could get the tower going up at the same time we were excavating the garage. Separating those two structures so they could be constructed independently was a huge help." J.E. Dunn Construction is self-performing the concrete work, pre-cast, masonry, exterior vertical stone, and rough and finish carpentry. Major subcontractors on the project are U.S. Engineering (mechanical), Capital Electric, and Bratten Steel.
Curt Grandia, editor
Boston, Mass. – Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other officials participated in an April 27th groundbreaking ceremony for the redevelopment of the former Penny Savings Bank building. The groundbreaking signified the beginning of the transformation of this historic building into luxury residences and retail space. Joining Mayor Menino at the ceremony were John Fish of general contractor Suffolk Construction and developer Sean McGrath of Stonegate Group. Located at the corner of Union Park and Washington Streets in Boston's South End, the Penny Savings Bank is a stately, marble and granite building, designed in the Renaissance Revival style. First constructed between 1911 and 1917, the building originally housed the Boston Penny Savings Bank. In 1959, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston purchased the building, renaming it the Cardinal Cushing Center for the Spanish Speaking. Prior to the current redevelopment project, it was used as a thrift store. Over time, the façade of the building has lost some of its former luster and elegance. The new design will be a hybrid of old and new. Three additional floors will be erected, set back from the façade and marquis of the existing building. Entrance canopies, modeled after the originals from the early 20th century, will be recreated. The development will consist of 23 individual luxury residences, ranging from 955 square feet to 1,835 square feet. There will also be 9,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and underground parking for more than 25 cars. Mayor Menino said the project is another great example of buildings throughout the city that are underutilized and can make way for the much needed housing needed in the city's neighborhoods. Stonegate Group selected Suffolk Construction for the project, together with the architectural firm Finegold Alexander + Associates. The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2007.
Paul Fournier, editor
Hanford, Wash. – The job of safely disposing of 53 million gallons of deadly waste left over from decades of plutonium production at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation has proved a difficult challenge for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors. Construction is underway on the massive vitrification project, which one day would turn the waste into a glassy compound that will trap the radioactive material for safe storage. But safety and technical problems have forced the department's contractor, Bechtel National Inc., to delay most of the building. As a result, the project's completion has been delayed from 2011 back to 2017 or later and driven costs up by billions, according to reports from government agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and watchdog groups. When completed, the project could cost $11.3 billion if the price tag doesn't balloon even further. It has nearly tripled in less than six years. At the same time, environmental and health risks are mounting. The corrosive waste weakens the walls of the tanks and the risk of leaks keeps growing, regulators say.
Juneau, Alaska – The Alaska Senate passed a major rewrite of the state's oil tax April 25, sending the bill on to members of the House Finance Committee, who are now trying to mesh the Senate's version with a version of the tax developed earlier in the House Resources Committee. The Senate-passed bill sets the tax rate at 22.5 percent of net oil production income, which is lower than the 25 percent rate in the Senate Resources version and higher than the 20 percent proposed by the governor. The Senate bill also sets the tax on natural gas at an effective rate of 7.5 percent of net production income. State administration officials said they are working on an estimate of the financial effects of the bill passed by the Senate. But time is running out, as legislators are facing a May 9th adjournment and the start of a special session on a natural gas pipeline construction contract, a contract in which the new oil tax plays a key role.
Seattle, Wash. – There's a new twist in the ongoing debate over the fate of Seattle's earthquake-prone Alaska Way Viaduct. Until this week, the three options under consideration were replacement of the viaduct with a new structure, replacement of the viaduct with a more expensive tunnel and removal of the viaduct with no replacement. But a fourth idea emerged this week when a group of engineers suggested to the City Council that the aging structure could be repaired. They said retrofitting the viaduct by strengthening its ability to withstand earthquakes could cost a third as much as replacing the structure. The engineers estimated the retrofit can be done for $800 million and extend the life of the viaduct by up to 30 years, compared with the $2 billion lowest estimate for a new elevated structure or the $3 billion lowest estimate for a new six-lane tunnel. State engineers have said there is a 5 percent chance the 1950s-era viaduct could collapse in another major earthquake. The City Council is considering plans to place an advisory vote on the November ballot.
Carl Molesworth, editor
Cheyenne – With the return of warm weather, the Wyoming Department of Transportation and several dozen construction companies have geared up for another season of improvement work on the Cowboy State's roads. Numerous projects are already under contract and being carried over from last construction season or are starting up this spring. The project list includes not only road and bridge improvement work but also miscellaneous work such as sand and gravel production and stockpiling, lighting and signal installation, and guardrail installation. Two of WYDOT's largest projects, gauged by contract amount, involve Interstate 25. Work has begun in Platte County on a $22.9-million effort by Simon Contractors of Cheyenne to reconstruct, widen and resurface 8.3 miles of roadway between Wheatland and Glendo. Continuing from last year is an $18.8-million, 10.1-mile-long reconstruction project east of Glenrock. A third I-25 project, located in Johnson County, got under way in April. The $7.2-million contract held by Intermountain Construction & Materials of Gillette consists of resurfacing 7.7 miles of roadway between Kaycee and Buffalo. Another major project getting started this spring involves the state's busiest highway, Interstate 80, in the Elk Mountain-Arlington area. The $10.4-million contract, held by Reiman Corp. of Cheyenne, includes pavement resurfacing, along with concrete slab replacements and bridge upgrades on 16.5 miles of the route. Also just getting started on I-80 is a $7.6-million pavement leveling and resurfacing by McGarvin-Moberly Construction Co. of Worland of 6.4 miles of roadway between the Buford and Vedauwoo interchanges on the Cheyenne-Laramie route. I-80 is also the focus of a $5-million project by Star Aggregates Inc. of Cheyenne, which got started over the winter, to build on- and off-ramps at the new Roundtop interchange (exit 357) just west of Cheyenne. Another start-up project involves the I-80 business route in Bridger Valley. The $11.1-million effort by E.H. Oftedal & Sons Inc. of Miles City, Mont., will refurbish 8.5 miles of the road (including bridge replacements) through the communities of Lyman and Fort Bridger. In the northern part of the state, on I-90, a second year of work will be in progress on an $8.3-million project by Cook-Harriet Construction of Buffalo to widen and resurface 5.4 miles of the route just north of Buffalo. After several years of environmental study and planning, work is beginning on a multi-year, multi-contract effort to rebuild US-26/287 over Togwotee Pass in northwest Wyoming. In all, five contracts will be awarded to reconstruct a 38-mile stretch of highway between Dubois and Moran Junction. The first job, a $23.4-million contract awarded in January to E.H. Oftedal & Sons, covers the 9.7-mile Brooks Lake section between mileposts 31 and 41. The section begins at the Shoshone National Forest boundary outside of Dubois and extends westward. Major work will be in progress on other non-Interstate routes as well; for example, US-14/16 near Spotted Horse in northwest Campbell County, which is the focus of a pavement leveling, resurfacing and bridge repair project covering 10.7 miles and being done by Foothills Contracting of Webster, S.D., under a $10.3-million contract. South of Sheridan, reconstruction will be starting on 8.2 miles of US-14, with Foothills Contracting also holding that $12.4-million contract. South of Big Piney, a $4.9-million resurfacing project by LeGrand Johnson Construction Co. of Logan, Utah, on 6.1 miles of US-189 is just beginning. Similar work is also starting on 7.1 miles of WYO-372 northwest of Green River under a $4-million contract held by H-K Contractors Inc. of Idaho Falls, Idaho. On 5.75 miles of WYO-116 between Sundance and Upton, Simon Contractors has begun work on a $6.1-million resurfacing contract. The most comprehensive project under contract in an urban area involves I-25 in east Casper, where an $11.7-million effort by Reiman Corp. has started to replace two bridges at the Evansville interchange (exit 185), with reconstruction of an associated mile of the highway. In Rock Springs, work continues on a project by Reiman Corp. to replace the "A" Street viaduct and to refurbish an adjacent section of Elk Street as part of an $8.2-million project. Also in Rock Springs, work is wrapping up on the $16.9-million Elk Street interchange reconstruction project that began in 2004. Another project continuing from last year involves 1.3 miles of US-16/20 at the south end of Greybull. The $8-million contract includes replacing a railroad overpass. In Cody, work has begun to renew 2.2 miles of US-14A (16th Street and Bighorn Avenue) for $11.3 million, with the work being done by Cheyenne's Reiman Corp. And at the south end of Worland, bridge replacement and road resurfacing work is under way on 1.8 miles of US-20 and WYO-433, with CC&G Corp. of Lander holding the $6.4-million contract.
Hol Wagner, editor
Houston, Texas – Tellepsen Builders have received Houston's Landmark Award for "Best Rehabilitation/Renovation", presented by the Houston Business Journal. The Landmark Awards recognize outstanding commercial real estate projects and developments that make significant impressions on the Houston landscape. Tellepsen Builders' renovation of Compaq Center into a 16,000-seat sanctuary for Lakewood Church marked the first time a former basketball arena has been converted into a church. Tellepsen converted the existing 400,000-square-foot Compaq Center, former home of the Houston Rockets and Comets, and constructed an additional 200,000 square feet to complete the Lakewood Church Central Campus location. The $95-million renovation was the largest and most complex church project completed by Tellepsen Builders in their 96-year history. Special features of the project include a 26,000-square-foot central plant constructed on top of the former food court to house new boilers, chillers, cooling towers and electrical transformers, providing utility service separate from the rest of the Greenway Plaza development; a new 5-story, 200,000-square-foot building on the eastern side of the sanctuary, providing space for classrooms, assembly rooms, a bookstore, a coffee/gathering area and television production offices, and construction of a stage, flanked by waterfalls and elevated seating to accommodate a 250-member choir.
Liz Moucka, editor
Pewaukee, Wis. – Mechanical contractor Total Comfort of Wisconsin Inc. has reportedly acquired key operating divisions of Milwaukee mechanical contracting firm, Downey Inc. Total Comfort, Pewaukee, Wis., will assume operational control of Downey immediately, with the acquisition finalized later this month, according to the Business Journal of Milwaukee. Gregory Coffman, president and chief executive officer of Downey, will lead the transition. Established in 1863, Downey Inc. serves commercial, industrial and institutional customers. With the acquisition, Total Comfort now has approximately 300 employees, including more than 230 skilled trade workers representing four Milwaukee area labor unions — Sheet Metal Workers Local 18, Plumbers Local 75, Sprinkler Fitters Local 183, Steamfitters Local 601, and Racine/Kenosha Steamfitters/Plumbers Local 118, the Business Journal reported.
Racine, Wis. – A $185-million residential and commercial has been proposed at the site of a former Brownfield on Racine's Lake Michigan shoreline. Keybridge Development Group of Waukesha, Wis. has made public plans for a mixed-use development on 20 acres of the old Walker Manufacturing site and what is currently the Pugh Marina. The development, Pointe Blue, will include condominiums and apartments, retail space, offices, and a marina. Infrastructure work and site remediation could begin late this year, with occupancy beginning in 2008.
Barry Gantenbein, editor
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