HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Cianbro Corporation of Pittsfield, Maine, awarded a $104.7 million contract to replace the 102-year-old Niantic River railroad bridge, has been called on by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to employ state workers and subcontractors.
"Workers and businesses in Connecticut need and deserve the benefit of jobs and revenue from this massive construction project, which must move forward as quickly as possible," Blumenthal said.
"Amtrak's contract award may be final, but its practical effect may be improved by insisting that subcontractors and workers come from Connecticut."
More than half of the $104.7 million contract will be paid by federal stimulus funds, leading Blumenthal to urge Cianbro to ensure that critical worker protections and benefits are in place and to follow federal hiring and fare wage guidelines.
"I am deeply disappointed that Amtrak awarded this huge contract - one of the largest federal stimulus projects in Connecticut - to an out-of-state company," Blumenthal said. "I will seek assurances that Cianbro will hire Connecticut workers and contractors, and ensure fair wages and equitable working conditions."
The contract to replace the Niantic River bridge is one of the largest Amtrak projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Amtrak's annual capital budget will cover $47.1 million of the contract with federal taxpayers funding the remaining $57.6 million. The bridge's construction is expected to take three years.
"This federal taxpayer-funded project is designed to benefit Connecticut workers and businesses and kick-start the state's economy," Blumenthal said. "Sending vital stimulus dollars out of state is unacceptable and unconscionable. I urge the company to keep in Connecticut as many stimulus dollars as possible - as Congress and the President intended."
Amtrak has already received approval from the Department of Environmental Protection for construction of the bridge and is awaiting approval of a draft permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. A final permit will need to be secured by the Coast Guard before construction can begin.
Construction will entail the building of a new two-track bridge south of the current bridge as well as expanding the navigation channel beneath the bridge, realigning the east and west track approaches to the bridge and relocating the Niantic Bay Overlook boardwalk as well as beach restoration.
The existing Niantic River bridge will remain in operation while the new one is built with the river staying open to water traffic throughout traffic.