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Head Above Water

North Jersey Looks to Transit, Health Care to Stay Afloat

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The construction market in North Jersey is not unlike most in the Tri-State region. Private jobs are hard to come by – and even harder to find – and most firms, large and small, find themselves pitted against steep competition for every small health care, education and transportation project that goes out to bid.

Turner Construction Co. is building the $447 million University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.
Photo: Turner Construction Co.
Turner Construction Co. is building the $447 million University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.
Turner will finish the 630,000-sq-f, 237-room Princeton medical facility in 2011
Photo: Turner Construction Co.
Turner will finish the 630,000-sq-f, 237-room Princeton medical facility in 2011
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“There’s a fairly significant amount of work on the infrastructure side and a lot that appears to be on the drawing board waiting to come out,” says Patrick Greene, a partner in the River Edge, N.J., law office of Peckar & Abramson. “Some of that is probably a result of stimulus funding. That seems to be the one sector with a decent amount of activity.”

The $8.7 billion Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Mass Transit Tunnel, which will provide New Jersey Transit trains access to Pennsylvania station, is just getting under way. Schiavone/Shea/Skanska, Joint Venture of Secaucus, N.J., is the apparent low bidder at $259 million for the final design and construction of the Palisades Tunnels in New Jersey. The team includes Schiavone Construction Co. of Secacus; J.F. Shea Construction of Walnut, Calif.; and Skanska USA Civil of New York.

The tunnel received $130 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. NJ Transit also funded a $30 million Lower Hack Drawbridge rehabilitation project, a $17.3 million Newark Penn Station Plaza, a $15 million Plauderville Station and other projects with the $342 million in stimulus dollars it received.

The ARRA act generated about $652 million in state and local highway and bridge work, including the $29.7 million Interstate 287 rehabilitation project in Middlesex and Somerset counties. Crisdel Group of South Plainfield, N.J. received the contract in August.

Other NJDOT construction projects include resurfacing and rehabilitation of Route 280 in Essex County, a $29 million project slated for completion this year by Della Pella Paving of Parsippany, N.J. Tilcon New York of West Nyack, N.Y., and Joseph M. Sanzari Building Corp. of Ho Ho Kus, N.J., are resurfacing eastbound Route 80 in Warren County, a $19.7 million project scheduled to finish this year. PKF Mark III of Newtown, Pa., is working on a $49 million bridge replacement and road upgrading on Route 46 in Morris County. J. Fletcher Creamer & Son of Hackensack, N.J., in a joint venture with Sanzari, began a $38 million roadway and drainage improvement project on Route 46 in Bergen County last year.

“On the public side, there’s a lot coming up,” says Brian Tobin, executive director Associated General Contractors of New Jersey in Edison, which represents heavy civil contractors. “It’s not as much as it used to be. Work is down 20% to 30%. This will be a challenging year. There are big jobs, but there are a lot of small- to medium-sized companies out that will be hurting.”

Despite the multiple ongoing projects, Rob Lewandowski, spokesman for the New Jersey Laborers’ International Union in Monroe Township, N.J. warned that the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund will soon be insolvent, with all gas taxes raised already committed to pay interest on existing notes.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has a $2.5 billion, 170-mi-lane widening program under way and scheduled for completion in 2014. In February, the authority had several projects in northern New Jersey about to go out for bid, says Chief Engineer Rich Raczynski. Meanwhile, a joint venture between J. Fletcher Creamer and Sanzari is rebuilding the 16W interchange. Ferreira Construction Co. of Branchburg, N.J., is realigning the entry to the Lincoln Tunnel, a $15 million project, and building a new ramp at 18W, a $24 million job. The Turnpike Authority has...

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