PA 17-230—sHB 7055

Transportation Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION REGARDING THE NOTIFICATION OF STATE CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT OPPORTUNITIES BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT AND THE COMMISSIONER OF TRANSPORTATION, PARKING SPACES, WAYSIDE HORNS, THE DISPOSITION OF EXCESS STATE PROPERTY, HEAVY DUTY TRAILERS, FLASHING LIGHTS ON MOTOR VEHICLES, CHILD RESTRAINT SYSTEMS, PESTICIDE APPLICATION BY RAILROAD COMPANIES, THE "MOVE OVER" LAW, ROAD DESIGN STANDARDS, AND ROAD AND BRIDGE DESIGNATIONS

SUMMARY: This act strengthens motor vehicle child restraint (car seat) requirements and subjects violators to the penalties under existing law.

It eliminates a law requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to offer excess highway property to the municipality in which the property is located before selling it. (DOT is still subject to another law requiring all state agencies to notify state and local officials before selling any land they own in a municipality.)

The act changes other laws affecting handicapped parking, railroad crossings, pesticide spraying by railroads, notification procedures for certain DOT and UConn contracts, oversize and overweight vehicle permits, the “move over” law, the display of lights on vehicles used by state construction inspectors, parking in New Haven intersections, and road design standards.

It requires DOT to conduct several studies and install certain signs on certain highways. It also makes a technical change ( 13) and names a number of roads and bridges.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017, except for the naming of roads and bridges, installation of signs and the DOT studies of the Danbury Branch Line, Merritt Parkway, and Bridgeport-Greenwich tunnel, which take effect upon passage.

1-3 — NOTIFICATION OF CERTAIN DOT AND UCONN CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

The act eliminates requirements that (1) UConn and DOT notify prospective bidders on various construction projects and (2) DOT notify prospective consultants, by advertising at least once in newspapers distributed throughout the state or in areas affected by the contract. It instead requires DOT and UConn to notify prospective contractors and consultants through the Department of Administrative Services' state contracting portal.

UConn Contracts

The act applies to three types of UConn contracts:

1. total cost basis or other contracts for university projects costing more than $500,000,

2. construction manager at-risk contracts, and

3. design-build contracts.

By law, a “total cost basis contract” is a design-build contract or a construction manager at-risk project delivery contract between UConn and a contractor to accomplish multiple elements of a project, including site acquisition, architectural design, preconstruction activities, project management, and construction (CGS 10a-109c).

In a construction manager at-risk contract, a construction manager generally works with a designer and provides labor, material, and project management during construction.  Under a design-build contract, a single entity both designs and builds the project.

The act requires UConn or the construction manager, as applicable, to advertise all three types of contracts on the state contracting portal. It requires them to advertise construction manager at-risk and design-build contracts specifically on the portal instead of generally on the internet.

It eliminates newspaper advertising requirements for total cost basis and other contracts of more than $500,000 and construction manager at-risk contracts. (Prior law did not require UConn to advertise design-build contracts in newspapers. As under existing law, UConn must still advertise contracts of more than $500,000 on the university website.)

DOT Contracts

The DOT contracts affected by the act are:

1. construction manager at risk contracts,

2. design-build contracts, and

3. consulting services contracts.

The act eliminates the newspaper advertising requirement for each of these contracts and requires the commissioner to advertise consultant contracts on the portal, just as he must now advertise construction manager at-risk and design-build contracts.

4 — PARKING SPACES FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

By law, parking spaces reserved for passenger cars and vans used by people with disabilities must be as near as possible to building entrances or walkways. Starting October 1, 2017, the act also allows these parking spaces to be placed parallel to sidewalks on public highways, as the law allowed before October 1, 2004. By law, these spaces must be designated by signs with specific wording and symbols.

5 — WAYSIDE HORNS AT RAILROAD CROSSINGS

The law allows the use of stationary “wayside horns” at certain railroad crossings to warn motorists of approaching trains. The act reduces, from 29 seconds to 15 seconds, the minimum time such a horn must sound before the train reaches the crossing, conforming the requirement to federal regulations (49 C.F.R. 222.59).

6 — DISPOSAL OF EXCESS DOT PROPERTY

The act eliminates a requirement that DOT offer any excess land or buildings it no longer needs for highway purposes to the town in which the property is located before selling the property at auction. (But DOT must still offer these properties to other state agencies before selling it.)

Another law, unaffected by the act, requires all state agencies, such as DOT, to notify state and municipal officials before selling any land they own in that municipality. The chief executive officer then has 45 days in which to notify the state about the municipality's interest in buying the property (CGS 3-14b; see BACKGROUND).

7 — MOVEMENT OF HEAVY CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT

The act changes how DOT must regulate the movement of oversize and overweight trailers carrying heavy construction equipment. Under prior law, each movement of these vehicles required a written DOT permit unless the vehicle was operating with an oversize-overweight account code number and a confirmation number. The act eliminates the account code requirement and instead allows such a vehicle to operate without a written DOT permit for each movement if it has an annual DOT oversize-overweight vehicle permit and a confirmation number. It requires the DOT commissioner to issue each such vehicle a document identifying the vehicle and stating the permit's issuance and expiration dates.

The act also specifies that Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)-furnished number plates or markers for these vehicles be prominently displayed on the rear of these vehicles.

8 — DISPLAY OF LIGHTS ON VEHICLES OF STATE CONSTRUCTION INSPECTORS

The act allows state construction inspectors to display yellow or amber lights, including flashing or revolving lights, without a DMV permit on DOT-authorized vehicles they drive while conducting inspections for the state. It requires the DOT commissioner to keep a list of these inspectors, including their names and addresses, and the registration number of each vehicle that will display the lights.

The law already allows wreckers and rural mail delivery vehicles to display these lights without a permit.

9 — DANBURY RAIL LINE STUDY

The act requires the DOT commissioner to evaluate the financial and operational feasibility of improving service on the Danbury branch line of the New Haven line, and to plan to implement these improvements, such as providing shuttle service and replacing rail cars. In conducting his evaluation, the commissioner must review previous studies, including the DOT's 2016 Danbury Branch Line Final Implementation Plan. The commissioner must report on his evaluation, findings, and plan, by January 1, 2018, to the Transportation and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees.

10 — MERRITT PARKWAY HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS

By law, DOT must investigate and identify ways to improve notification of height restrictions on the Merritt Parkway. The act requires DOT, when doing so, to focus on limited access entrances to the parkway and electronic means of notification. The department must report to the Transportation Committee on its findings and recommendations by January 1, 2018.

11 — CHILD RESTRAINTS

The act strengthens child restraint system (car seat) requirements and subjects violators to the penalties under existing law. Among other things, it increases (1) the threshold age or weight under which a child must be placed in a rear facing car seat and (2) from six to seven, the maximum age at which children must be secured in either a child restraint or booster seat secured by a seat belt. It prohibits people from placing a child in a rear facing car seat in the front passenger seat of any vehicle with a functional air bag on that side.

Child Restraint System Requirements

Prior law required children:

1. under age one or weighing less than 20 pounds to be secured in a rear-facing child restraint,

2. age six and younger or weighing less than 60 pounds to be secured in a child restraint, and

3. age seven through 15 and weighing at least 60 pounds to either use such a restraint or wear a seat belt.

The act increases the age and weight thresholds for child restraint systems (see Table 1, below) and requires that such restraints be equipped with a five-point harness. As under existing law, all child restraint systems must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards.

Table 1: Child Restraint Requirements under the Act

Age and Weight

Restraint Requirements

Under age 2, or less than 30 pounds, regardless of age

Rear-facing child restraint

Ages 2 through 4, or weighing 30 through 39 pounds, regardless of age

Rear- or forward-facing child restraint

Ages 5 through 7, or weighing 40 through 59 pounds, regardless of age

Rear- or forward-facing child restraint or a booster seat secured by a seat belt. (As under existing law, the booster seat must be secured by a lap-and-shoulder seat belt.)

Ages 8 through 15 and weighing 60 pounds or more

Child restraint or seat belt

Under the act, if a child's age and weight fall in two different categories (e.g., a child is less than two years old but weighs more than 30 pounds) the more restrictive requirement (rear-facing car seat in this instance) applies.

Penalties for Violations

As under existing law, a first violation of the child restraint provisions is an infraction and a second violation is punishable by a fine of up to $199. Each subsequent violation is a class A misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties).

The DMV commissioner must require anyone who commits a first or second violation to attend a DMV-approved child car seat safety course. The commissioner, after providing notice and an opportunity for a hearing, may suspend for up to two months the driver's license of a violator who fails to attend or successfully complete the course.

12 — NOTIFICATION OF PESTICIDE SPRAYING BY RAILROADS

The act requires railroads to provide notice before using pesticides to control vegetation on railroad rights of way. Prior law exempted railroads from providing such notice. (Federal regulations require railroad companies to control vegetation on railroad rights-of-way for safety reasons (49 C.F.R. 213.37).)

The act requires a railroad company that applies pesticides to any railroad right-of-way to:

1. provide at least 21 days' notice of the application to DOT and the chief elected official or board of selectmen of each municipality where it will apply the pesticide and

2. file a vegetation management plan with DOT and these municipalities by February 1 annually.

Under the act, such a plan must identify targeted vegetation and management methods for the upcoming calendar year. Municipalities must post the vegetation management plan on their websites, if they have one, within 30 days after receiving it.

A violation is punishable by a fine of up to $90.

14 — MOVE OVER LAW

The act requires a driver traveling in the lane next to the shoulder, lane, or breakdown lane of a highway, when approaching a stationary vehicle located on such shoulder, lane, or breakdown lane, to move over one lane, unless doing so would be unreasonable or unsafe. A violation is an infraction.

Existing law, unchanged by the act, requires drivers to immediately reduce speed when approaching an emergency vehicle that is stationary or traveling significantly below the speed limit on the shoulder, lane, or breakdown lane, and to move over one lane, if they can do so safely, if they are traveling in the lane next to the shoulder, lane, or breakdown lane where the emergency vehicle is located.

15 — TUNNEL STUDY

The act requires DOT to study the feasibility of building a tunnel from Greenwich to Bridgeport, including building one under I-95. The commissioner must report the study's findings to the Transportation Committee by January 1, 2019.

16 — NEW HAVEN TRAFFIC LAWS

By law, motor vehicles cannot park within 25 feet of an intersection, marked crosswalk at an intersection, or a stop sign. The act creates exceptions for certain intersections in New Haven.

It allows a vehicle to be parked as close as 10 feet from an intersection in that city that has a curb extension as wide as or wider than the parking lane. (A curb extension extends the sidewalk into the parking lane to narrow the roadway and provide additional space for pedestrians.) It also allows a vehicle to be parked within 25 feet of a stop sign at the intersection of one-way streets in New Haven where permitted by that city's traffic authority. As under prior law, a violation is an infraction.

17 — ROAD DESIGN STANDARDS

The act requires the DOT commissioner to update design standards for state roads by July 1, 2018. As under existing law, the standards must include, as appropriate, the standards of the National Association of City Transportation Officials' Urban Bikeway and Urban Street design guides.

18-44, 47 & 48 — BRIDGE AND ROAD NAMING

The act names 14 state highway segments and 15 state highway bridges as follows:

18. Route 53 in Danbury from I-84 to South Street, the “Danbury Veterans Memorial Highway;”

19. Route 67 in Oxford, the “Lieutenant Colonel Howard Belinsky Memorial Highway;”

20. Route 79 in Madison from Route 1 to the intersection with Green Hill Road, the “Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel Memorial Highway;”

21. Route 32, from the end of Route 2 overlap in Norwich, north to the intersection with Route 207 in Franklin, the “Joseph J. Buyak, Jr. Memorial Highway;”

22. Route 80 in North Branford from the East Haven line to the Guilford line, the “North Branford Fire Department Memorial Highway;”

23. Route 69 in Woodbridge from Warren Road north to the Bethany line, the “Thomas Darling Memorial Highway;”

24. Route 194 in South Windsor from Route 30 to Ayers Road, the “Cary Prague Memorial Highway;”

25. Route 120 from Route 322 to Route 10 in Southington, “The Southington Fallen Firefighters Memorial Highway;”

26. Bridge number 05869 on Route 44 in Ashford passing over the Mount Hope River, the “Specialist Robert W. Hoyt Memorial Bridge;”

27. Route 189 in Hartford near the University of Hartford from Route 44 to the Hartford-West Hartford line, the “A. Peter LoMaglio Memorial Highway;”

28. Bridge number 00349 on Route 1 passing over the Patchogue River in Westbrook, “The Singing Bridge;”

29. Bridge number 00348 on Route 1 in Westbrook passing over the Menunketesuck River, the “John H. Wilson Memorial Bridge;”

30. Bridge number 05708 on Route 70 over the Ten Mile River, the “Police Chief Gary Walberg Memorial Bridge;”

31. Bridge number 00190 in Branford passing over Todds Hill Road, the “Frank Kinney, Jr. Memorial Bridge;”

32. Bridge number 01075 on I-84 passing over Route 70 in Cheshire, the “State Police Sergeant G. Karume Schweitzer Memorial Bridge;”

33. The bridge on Route 229 in Southington passing over I-84, the “Detective Bruce Boisland Memorial Bridge;”

34. Bridge number 01228 carrying Scott Road over I-84 in Waterbury, the “Najla G. Noujaim Memorial Highway;”

35. Bridge number 01292 carrying Route 97 over the Shetucket River, the “Lord's Bridge;”

36. Route 287 in Newington, from the junction of Route 176 generally eastward to the junction of U.S. 5 and Route 15, the “General William P. Kelly Memorial Highway;”

37. Bridge number 01224 carrying I-84 over the Mad River in Waterbury, the “Sergeant Joseph M. Nolan Memorial Bridge;”

38. Bridge number 01592 carrying Maple Street over the Naugatuck River in Ansonia, the “Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Bridge;”

39. Bridge number 02858, carrying Route 243 over Two Mile Brook, the “Kevin Rascoe, Sr. Memorial Bridge;”

40. Route 179 in Canton at the intersection of Route 44, “Hart's Corner;”

41. Bridge number 04324 on Route 175 in Newington, the “Sergeant Burton E. Callahan, Jr. Memorial Bridge” instead of the “Sergeant Burton E. Callahan Memorial Bridge;”

42. Route 194 in South Windsor running generally north direction from U.S. Route 5 to Troy Road, the “Thomas E. Howe Memorial Highway” instead of the “Thomas F. Howe Memorial Highway;”

43. Route 10 in Cheshire running north from about 350 feet south of the entrance of Bartlem Park to the Cheshire Police Station the “Medal of Honor Memorial Highway” instead of the “Medal of Honor Highway;”

44. Route 173 in Newington from the intersection of Richard Street north to the intersection of Route 174, the “Firefighter Jay Cole, Jr. Memorial Highway,” instead of the “Robert J. Seiler Memorial Highway;”

47. Bridge Number 00837 on I-84 in Tolland, passing over Cider Mill Road, the, “Sergeant Donald C. LeBlond Memorial Bridge;” and

48. Bridge number 04287 on Old Cathole Road in Tolland passing over I-84, the “Lance Corporal Raymond Blanchette Memorial Bridge.”

45, 46 & 49-51 — SIGN INSTALLATION

The act requires DOT to install signs at the following locations:

A sign for St. Margaret's Shrine before exit 47 on the Merritt Parkway ( 45),

Signs for The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook on Route 9 and I-95 ( 46),

A sign for Southport Village before exit 20 on I-95 ( 49),

A sign for the Fairfield Museum and History Center before exit 22 on I-95 ( 50), and

A sign for the Fairfield Theater Company before exit 21 on I-95 ( 51).

BACKGROUND

Related Act

PA 17-243, 2, requires the Department of Administrative Services, in cases where a municipality declines to acquire excess state property located in that municipality, to consider offering the surplus property to abutting landowners before offering it for general sale.