Author Archives: kyorio1528

First Rest Stop Renovation To Be Ready for Memorial Day Weekend; Many More To Come

It’s almost Memorial Day, which means people are getting ready to go down the Shore. They might be dreading the traffic, but there will be a shiny, new spot to stop for those heading to Exit 100 or points further south on the Garden State Parkway.

Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the new Monmouth service area will be fully operational by Memorial Day, according to the Asbury Park Press. The Sunoco fuel pumps at the area are already operational with the main building scheduled to open within the next week. HMS Host spent about $11.5 million on the facility.

The Monmouth service area location was the first Parkway rest stop to be rebuilt as part a $250 million plan to replace or remodel 16 service areas on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.

According to NJ.com, the Thomas Edison rest stop in Woodbridge is the first of the Turnpike facility to be redone. The 16 locations won’t all be complete until 2024.

HMS Host will replace eight service stops on the Turnpike and Parkway and remodel six others, while Sunoco will invest in fuel services and convenience stores at 21 sites, according to the Asbury Park Press story.

Newark Airport ConRAC Gets Funding, Prepares To Break Ground

There is movement on the new 2.7 million-square-foot consolidated rent-a-car facility (ConRAC) at Newark Airport, as $500 million in financing as been approved for the project.

The building, which will put all rent-a-car companies under one roof as part of Newark Liberty Airport’s Terminal One Redevelopment Program, will be constructed on a 16.65-acre site and feature 2,925 public parking spaces and 3,380 rental car spaces, according to airport-technology.com.

The project, which includes sustainability initiatives including a solar roof, electric vehicle charging stations and water reclamation systems, is expected to break ground this month. The parking area is to be completed in 2021, and the full facility is expected to be operational in 2023.

NJSDA in Crisis Again; School Projects Could Be At Risk

The New Jersey School Development Authority (NJSDA) is in crisis, again. The agency in charge of funding and managing new construction, modernization and renovation in 31 of the state’s most impoverished school districts is spiraling after yet another scandal. There are now calls to dissolve the agency that was created after its predecessor was disbanded when it failed to meet its mission to use taxpayer dollars to give the most at-risk kids of this state an adequate learning environment.

This week the organization’s CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco was forced to resign after an investigation showed she lied about her education and hired unqualified people with personal connections to her after firing others on staff. Amid these accusations of unfair hiring practices and lying about qualifications, the budget is dwindling and no one can say for sure what is going to happen to the districts and 25 active Capital Program projects it lists on its website.

According to NJ.com, the agency once had a budget of $12 billion and it is now down to $60 million, which is not enough for new construction—it is only enough for emergency repairs at existing schools. And the NJSDA is already operating with a debt that costs state taxpayers $1 billion a year, according to The Record. It is also under multiple internal investigations and an audit.

Lost again in all of this is the construction projects that now people in the state admit there are real questions about how projects can go forward, but board chairman Rob Nixon told The Record the authority would continue its work.

“I’ve got a responsibility to now work with the board to get a CEO in there that’s going to be focused on taking this program into its next stage,” he said. “We really haven’t missed a beat. But I think that now that we’re hopefully no longer going to be distracted, we can look ahead to finishing up the projects we have and look into re-authorization and learning from this like we’ve done in the past.”

The Capital Program active projects are:

Camden High School, Camden

George Washington Carver Elementary School, East Orange
New ES at Halloran PS 22 Site, Elizabeth – substantially complete and occupied.
James Madison Elementary School, Garfield – substantially complete and occupied.
Gloucester City Middle School, Gloucester City – substantially complete and occupied.
New Elementary School, Harrison
Thomas G. Connors Elementary School, Hoboken – not yet out to bid.
Madison Avenue Elementary School, Irvington
Patricia M. Noonan Elementary School, Jersey City – substantially complete and occupied.
Port Monmouth Road School, Keansburg
Senior High School, Millville
Paul Robeson Community Theme School for the Arts, New Brunswick
South Street Elementary School, Newark
Cleveland Street Elementary School, Orange
Orange High School, Orange
Dayton Avenue Elementary School Campus, Passaic City – design phase ongoing.
New Elementary School at Leonard Place, Passaic City
Union Avenue Middle School, Paterson
Alexander Denbo Elementary School, Pemberton
Seaman Avenue Elementary School, Perth Amboy
High School, Perth Amboy
Woodland Elementary School, Plainfield
Trenton Central High School, Trenton
Lincoln Avenue Middle School, Vineland – substantially complete and occupied.
Harry L. Bain Elementary School, West New York – substantially complete and occupied.

Report: Construction Slows on Much Needed Bridge Repairs Across U.S.

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) released its 2019 Bridge Report, and it is a good news/bad news (mostly the latter).

While there are fewer structurally deficient bridges than the year before, construction to fix them has slowed to the point where it would take 80 years to make the needed significant repairs, according to the report. That is not a good trend when the more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country are in need of “urgent” repairs.

Based on data from 2018, the “highlights” of the findings include:

  • Four out of 10 bridges need to be replaced or repaired
  • 47,052 of America’s 616,087 bridges are rated “structurally deficient” and need urgent repairs
  • The pace of repair in 2018 slowed compared to previous years—with only a 1 percent net reduction of deficient structures.
  • Americans cross these deficient bridges 178 million times a day.
  • Average age of a structurally deficient bridge is 62 years, compared to 40 years for non-deficient bridges.
  • 235,020 (38 percent) of U.S. bridges have identified repair needs.
  • 18,842 (1 in 3) Interstate highway bridges have identified repair needs

The report breaks down the crumbling infrastructure by state.

Rhode Island ranked first on the list by the percentage of deficient bridges with more than 23 percent of its 780 bridges found to be structurally deficient. Pennsylvania was fifth on the list with 3,770 of its 22,737 bridges listed as deficient, which is more than 16 percent. New York was 13th (1,757 out of 17,521/10 percent). New Jersey was 23 (544 out of 6,746, 8.1 percent).

New Jersey Paving the Way with Funding for Infrastructure Projects

New Jersey has spread the wealth in April with parts of Northern and Southern NJ receiving state funding to move forward with infrastructure projects.

Hoboken received more than $900,000 for various transportation projects through the Municipal Aid Program, the city announced last week. The money will be used for road repaving, the implementation of complete streets, and pedestrian safety upgrades related to Hoboken’s “Vision Zero” program, according to a press release.

“Upgrading our transportation infrastructure, especially our road repaving and pedestrian safety initiatives, are major priorities for my administration,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in the announcement. “This funding will help fund our proactive road repaving schedule, with over 100 blocks planned to be repaved in the city this year.  I thank Governor Murphy and the State DOT for this generous award.”

In other NJ infrastructure and transit-related project funding news, Murphy announced the Fiscal Year 2019 Safe Streets to Transit Program (SSTT) grants, which were awarded to five municipal projects through the Transit Village grant program. The recipient municipalities are:

  • Berkeley Heights, Union County: $410,000
  • Delran, Burlington County: $250,000
  • Margate, Atlantic County: $150,000
  • Red Bank, Monmouth County: $100,000
  • Middle Township, Cape May County: $90,000

The $1 million in funding will go toward projects that focus on pedestrian safety to and from transit facilities, such as sidewalks, and projects that create “safe and convenient ways to cross streets and comfortable and attractive environments” near NJ Transit stations.

Time To Go To The Shed

New York City officials held a ribbon cutting for The Shed earlier this week, and the $475 million project officially opens to the public tomorrow. Manhattan’s newest not-for-profit cultural arts center sits at West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues taking in crowds from The High Line and Hudson Yards. It aims to host events across all disciplines including music, theater, dance, literature, and art—and it intends to do it in a way that minimizes economic and social barriers.

It will attract attention as a building alone. The design team created an “anti-institutional institution,” according to The Architectural Record. The Shed has a Teflon-based polymer and steel telescoping outer shell that can roll onto the outer plaza, doubling the size of the indoor venue space to 17,000 square feet. The eight-floor building has 200,000 square feet total and is topped off by a glass-covered studio space.

The Next Great Hope, Again: Nassau Hub

While the debate continues on the loss of Amazon  headquarters from Long Island City—best or worst thing to happen to New York and who gets the blame or the credit?—out on Long Island, politicians are pushing the Nassau Hub as the next great, transformative project in the tri-state area. Of course, we’ve heard it all before about this 77-acre site surrounding Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, where attempts to develop residential, commercial and industrial-use space around the arena have failed repeatedly for various reasons over the years.

But there is new cause for hope that things will truly move forward this time as Governor Andrew Cuomo recently added $40 million in state funds, earmarked for three pedestrian bridges and to help Northwell Health build a medical research center (the “innovation center”), that will include laboratory and educational space. That money is in addition to the $85 million already coming from the state for parking garages.

As the developers attempt to move things forward and local politicians promote the possibilities of Nassau Hub, the Coliseum has been hosting concerts and the NHL’s Islanders have returned to play a portion of this season and next season’s games as they wait for a new arena to be completed at Belmont Park. (The team had left the outdated venue for Brooklyn.) With the Islanders doing well this year and big names like Billy Joel and Elton John booking shows, more people have been brought back to the area.

Developers continue to face resistance from nearby residents, however, who recently voiced concerns about the $1.5 billion plan to build office, retail, restaurant, and entertainment space, along with the medical and biotech research center and 500 units of housing. They were given permission to draft a site plan but must enter a project labor agreement with local building trade councils, as well as providing quarterly updates to the legislature and holding regular public meetings.

Should things work out this time and move forward, Phase I of the project, which includes the construction of the two state-funded parking garages with 3,400 spaces, the Northwell Health Innovation Center and half of the housing and entertainment units, is contingent on county legislative approval. Pending that approval, it is expected to begin within 24 months with anticipated completion by 2022.

 

Northeast Projects At Risk of Delay, Defunding To Pay for Border Wall

There are many government construction projects in the Northeast that could be delayed and millions of dollars in funds may be diverted to pay for President Trump’s Border Wall. The  Department of Defense list of military projects that could potentially be impacted was released this week by a senator on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In New Jersey, a $41 million construction project at Picatinny Arsenal is at risk of being delayed, but the four projects—including work on electrical systems and mechanical systems, as well as exterior renovations and  cleaning and repairing lift stations and catch basins—totaling more than $100 million for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would go ahead as planned because those contracts are scheduled to be awarded in March, April, May and September, and the Defense Department said it would not divert funding from projects scheduled to begin before Oct. 1, according to NJ.com.

In New York, The U.S. Military Academy in West Point could lose up to $160 million designated for a new engineering center and parking centerArmy Times reported.

Four projects in Pennsylvania are at risk, including a $71 million submarine propeller manufacturing facility in Philadelphia. In Delaware, the $39 million aircraft maintenance building at Dover Air Force could be delayed, according to Delaware Business Now.

As of now, no project would be cancelled to fund the Border Wall, the Pentagon said. But for that to hold true, Congress must approve the request to fully replenish the funds, according to the Army Times.

Delaware Seeks Funds for Infrastructure, Transportation Projects

Like its larger Northeast neighbors Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Delaware is also in need of vital infrastructure and transportation improvements and Governor John Carney addressed those issues in his proposed budget for 2020. Carney’s plan for the next fiscal year includes a Transportation Infrastructure Investment Fund that has $10 million allocated “to improve public infrastructure to support job-creating economic development projects” and a Capital Transportation Plan that designates $3.2 billion through 2025 to “modernize Delaware’s transportation system.”

Delaware took a step toward getting some of that needed construction funded last month when Carney and NJ governor Phil Murphy announced new toll rates at the Delaware Memorial Bridge (DMB) that will fund safety and infrastructure projects by the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA). With the additional revenue, the DRBA now has the resources to fund capital projects planned at Delaware Memorial Bridge including the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Bridge Paint Removal and Recoating ($48.2 million); Suspension Rope Replacement ($24.5 million); Bridge Steelwork Repairs ($40.5 million); Pin and Link Rehabilitation on Both Structures of DMB ($19.7 million); Ship Collision Protection System ($45.2 million); Bridge Deck Repair ($21.5 million); Transfer Bridge Repairs at the Cape May–Lewes Ferry ($4.3 million); and Ferry Repowering Program ($9.5 million).

Schumer Hopes Legislation Can Jump-start Gateway Construction

This week New York Senator Chuck Schumer said he will propose legislation to push construction to start on the multi-billion dollar Gateway Tunnel and Portal Bridge Project. Speaking at an event of the Association for a Better New York, Schumer said his bill would allow New York and New Jersey to advance money to get shovel-ready construction projects started and be guaranteed reimbursement from the federal government when the U.S. Department of Transportation gives its final approval.

Schumer said “if DOT continues to withhold the new starts grants from Portal and the ROD [record of decision] for the Hudson tunnels” he and fellow members of Congress from New York and New Jersey would push this legislation and attach it to an appropriations bill or some other “must-pass legislation,” according to The Bond Buyer.

Right now, Schumer said, even if the states had the money to fund the projects ready to begin the $12.7 billion plan to upgrade the rail tunnel under the Hudson River, the local government won’t spend that money for fear of not getting back what they would be owed from the federal government.

Acknowledging that this legislation is not the “magic solution” to solving the problems plaguing the Gateway Project overnight, Schumer said “the time for waiting is over.”