MERIDEN — As the weather takes a turn for the warmer this week, construction can be seen resuming or beginning on downtown building projects, and could soon be ramping up further.
Work on the State Street train station has been inching along since chain-link fencing and concrete barriers were put in place in mid-February. The new platform, which is being championed by state and local officials as a key component of a larger, multimillion-dollar rail improvement project called the Hartford Line, is set to open in late 2016 along with the rest of the line.
One of the first steps before construction is installing sheet piling into the ground around the tracks to support them during excavation, according to Robert Sammons, project manager for Judlau Contracting Inc.
In February, Sammons was concerned that city fiber optic cables were running directly under, or very near, the sheet piling operation. That turned out to be true, and it has delayed the installation of the metal sheets as officials reached a resolution to move the sheet piling closer to the tracks.
More recently, state officials required that vibration monitoring systems be added to nearby buildings to help keep them safe from the heavy excavation and demolition that would be occurring in tight proximity.
Those monitoring systems weren’t in the original designs for the work, and will need to be sent out to bid and then installed, a process that’s delaying station work even further, Sammons said.
“We’re really pushing on progressing the vibration monitoring,” Sammons said, in order to begin excavation after that.
Construction workers aren’t wasting the warmer weather, however. Sammons said work on a waste stockpiling area has begun on Colony Street near the Interstate 691 on-ramp.
The site will be essentially a concrete box that will hold dirt excavated from the train station site, samples of which will need to be tested for environmental contaminants as work progresses.
“We’re pouring concrete slabs, and then will install big concrete blocks around it to hold the dirt in,” Sammons said. “With the temperatures rising, we’re trying to pour all the concrete we can because it doesn’t hold when temperatures are near-freezing. This is all work that we have to have done before we could start excavating, because when I can finally start, I don’t want there to be any holdups.”
Sammons was hopeful demolition and excavation could begin as early as this week.
Down the road from the waste stockpiling area, a backhoe and dump truck could be seen driving behind the closed parking lot at 38-44 Colony St., the site of a future mixed-use development by the Meriden Housing Authority and Westmount Development Group.
The construction at 24 Colony St. will comprise a $24 million building with commercial space and apartments, as well as a 273-space parking garage.
Contractors were doing initial bore testing at the site Monday for potential environmental hazards, MHA Director Robert Cappelletti said. The report from that study, which should take one to two days, Cappelletti said, will be sent to representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD ’s approval is needed because the new development will include housing that will replace the Mills Memorial Apartments once they’re razed.
Cappelletti said once the reports are submitted and approval is granted, the housing authority will close on the property, and “work should begin two more weeks after that, if all goes according to plan.”
Workers from Meriden-
based LaRosa Construction could be seen a few hundred yards away, at the former Church and Morse building site, which was torn down in September as part of a flood control plan .
Joseph LaRosa, vice president of the company, said workers were clearing debris that had obstructed Harbor Brook, which runs through the site, but otherwise weren’t doing any other work.
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