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Grand Central Terminal to Receive Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade

Grand Central Terminal, a center piece of New York history and transportation, is about to receive a $200 million upgrade. Developer SL Green will be responsible for the 5 year project that will seek to significantly improve the commuter experience at the old train station. Everything from the street level entrances and mezzanine down to the subways themselves will experience a major renovation. New hallways and waiting areas will also be carved out in addition to the renovation. These significant changes could be a fairly intriguing prospect for Tri-State contractors as the city will be looking to finish the project as quickly as possible.

Why the rush?

While SL Green has been granted 5 years to finish the renovations, and new waiting area, they are in a race against time (and another building) to get the job completed. The Grand Central project must finish before a nearby 65-story office tower on East 42nd street. Without the completion of the Grand Central project tenants will not be allowed to occupy the office tower (which the developer is currently working on). A shorter amount of time means longer hours and more workers will be necessary to keep the renovation on track. Definitely an opportunity to watch out for over the coming months.

What is being renovated?

Renovations in Grand Central will include three new staircases to the subway platforms, new street level entrances and the mezzanine will be completely redone in order to improve the commuter experience. Officials from the de Blasio administration and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) hope that the improvements will allow them to run an additional train every hour on the Lexington Avenue line. It will not be easy as the proposed expansion must move around existing building columns that support the Hyatt Hotel that sits above it.

A Long Island Rail Road station at Grand Central is also under development by SL Green in order to help commuters connect to both the Metro-North and Times Square. The MTA, LIRR and Metro-North are expected to share the new mezzanine area that will include hanging plants, new tunnels, an expanded waiting area and a large arrival and departure board.

The multi-million dollar project should offer local contractors a great opportunity to get involved and drastically improve public transportation in one of the greatest and most historic landmarks in American history.

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Salem County Prison Expected to Receive $29 Million Expansion

The South Jersey Times has reported that Salem County is currently contemplating an expansion to its correctional facility. The expansion will not only add additional space to a prison that has become too small to hold all of its inmates but could also bring in additional revenue to the county. Additional revenue and inmates will come from nearby Gloucester County who relies on Salem County to house some of its criminals. Current estimates suggest that Salem County is losing close to $10 million in revenue due to a surplus of criminals in its prison system.

The proposed expansion will transform the current complex in Salem from a building that holds 400 beds to one that will house 780. With Gloucester planning on sending over 175 new inmates and the federal government planning on sending up to 100 inmates to the prison the expansion seems to be a necessary addition to the system. The prison had previously been used to house federal inmates until budget restrictions forced them to find other arrangements for those inmates. Salem County Sheriff Charles Miller detailed that reduction in federal inmates in a statement to the media.

“At one point we had up to 150 federal inmates here. But at one point in 2013, our fed population started declining because of an early release program.”

With less prisoners and a decline revenue the Salem facility will have to choose between an expansion or maintain its’ current performance at the expense of tax payers and the county. If the expansion does get funding (which will cost around $29 million) it could, over the long term, turn into a profitable asset for the county. For each inmate Salem houses (from Gloucester and abroad) they will receive $83 per inmate, per day. The county has already received $8.1 million from neighboring Gloucester County.

Assuming the expansion receives funding it could serve as a very intriguing project for federal and local contractors. And the prison facility could continue to expand with interest increasing from Burlington and Cumberland counties though such an increase in size will likely not happen in the near future. If you have any further questions please feel free to contact us at 1-800-649-9094. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Hurricane Sandy Recovery Escalates in Late Summer Heat Thanks to Federal Aid

It took a while for those affected by Hurricane Sandy to get life back in working order. Flooding from the storm surge destroyed homes, electrical lines and roads took months to repair and people went without heat during the coldest stretch of autumn. It took even longer for government and state aide to reach victims of the storm but that is all about to change as Sandy recovery projects are expected to be finished faster, much faster. According to the Daily Journal, New Jersey officials will accelerate spending on a housing program that had a bit of a shaky start.

How much has been spent?

At the end of March the state had only spent around 25% of the aid they had been given by the federal government last year which was in the region of $1.8 billion. Not exactly an inspiring figure. But between March 30th and June 30th the state has been spending big as it tries to spur on a housing program that looked dead in the water just a few months ago. $592 million of the $1.8 billion has been spent with $179 million of that going to homeowner’s between April and the end of June. The investment has been long overdue but homeowner’s and contractors should both see an increase in renovations and rebuilding before we see the first snow come down.

What took so long?

The housing program was supposed to be up and on its feet almost immediately, but, like most things that are launched too quickly it collapsed under its’ own weight. Paperwork was lost, money did not flow into the program as expected and homeowner’s received mixed signals from the state and those contractors who were working on the project.

April marked a turning point for the program. As investment in the program increased so too did the program’s performance. Over 1,600 home inspections were completed and lines of communication were more transparent between contractors, government officials and homeowners.

What happens when the $1.8 billion dries up?

Since the state is nearly a third of the way through the initial $1.8 billion given to them by the federal government some may wonder if the state can keep up its’ current levels of spending. The short answer is, yes, they can. A second federal recovery package worth $1.4 billion will arrive later this year which will keep the pace of rebuilding high thereby providing new homes for those affected by the storm and jobs for contractors who may be looking for more projects.

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Atlantic City Airport to Receive Vital Improvements from FAA

The money just keeps flowing down to Atlantic City this month as another transportation project has been approved for America’s Favorite Playground. But, this time the improvements aren’t coming on the boardwalk or in the form of improved roadways and casinos. This time it’s coming to the city effort in an effort to drive more traffic to southern New Jersey. The $1.8 million dollar renovation will assist in taxiway rehabilitation as well as a few reconstruction projects at Atlantic City International Airport (ACY). There’s just one more thing. The funding isn’t coming from the state or local governments, it’s not even coming from the South Jersey Transportation Authority. It’s coming from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Why is the FAA Investing in ACY?

While the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) does have some say over the direction of the airport it is not the primary owner of land at the airport. The FAA controls most of it after the city sold 4,312 acres of the airport to the federal government. The FAA will continue to control the airport grounds until it no longer has a use for it in which case, ownership will revert back to the SJTA.

Since the FAA owns a majority of the airport it was only a matter of time before it was included under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The AIP, according to the FAA website, provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). NPIAS airports are those deemed by the government as those airports that act as critical hubs for travel around the nation. So, though the SJTA owns the airport the FAA owns the land and has a vested interest in making sure ACY is running both efficiently and safely.

A Hub Long Neglected

When the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (the organization that oversees the operations at the airport) announced their 10-year, $27.6 billion capital plan the Atlantic City International Airport was surprisingly omitted. No funding would have been a major setback not only for the airport but also the region of Southern New Jersey that relies on the airport as a major transportation hub. When the FAA announced that the airport would be receiving vital improvements local politicians and SJTA officials were overjoyed.

“We are pleased to learn of the award. These investments help the airport maintain its state of excellence,” stated SJTA interim executive director Frank Frankowski.

Hopefully, with some further FAA investment and some help from local and federal contractors the airport can continue to be a major transportation hub and economic asset for the region. Atlantic City could use it.

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Manasquan Inlet Coast Guard Renovation Built for 500 Year Storm

The New Jersey coastline has experienced its’ fair share of mishaps and crises. There have been superstorms, hurricanes, rip currents, shark attacks and even the Jersey Shore. And, no matter what happens, you can count on the New Jersey Coast Guard to get you out of a sticky situation. During Hurricane Sandy the Coast Guard kept our coastal waters safe at great personal expense though they suffered some losses of their own. The station at Manasquan Inlet was one of those losses as three of the station’s buildings were flooded causing $2.1 million in damage and effectively destroying a local historical landmark. After two years of deliberation the federal government has announced plans to rebuild and enhance the facility in order to protect it from future storms.

The New Jersey Coast Guard responds to about 600 search-and-rescue cases per year. That’s a lot of people to save. And when there are just 8 Coast Guard stations along on the New Jersey coast line and are staffed by approximately 35 people, that’s a little over 2 cases a year that each person participates in (and probably many more people that they save). That’s part of the reason why the federal government has decided to invest $14 million into improving the Coast Guard Station at Manasquan Inlet.

Funding for the project will come from the $60 billion Disaster Relief Act which sets aside money for those federal agencies affected by natural disasters. With that money the Coast Guard will erect a 19,100 square foot building that will take the place of those buildings damaged by the storm. The one building that will not be torn down is the historic station building, built in 1936, which serves as a regional landmark. Officials believe that the project could be approved as early as August with construction expected to take anywhere between 18 and 24 months.

Rebuilding and renovating the station at Manasquan Inlet has been a project long in the works. The new developments should provide  a more secure, more reliable site for the Coast Guard to operate out of which will make for a safer coast line. Enjoy the summer!