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Utility & Transportation

25 Years In Construction


Sparwick Contracting -

february 2019


de i s n


te bra e l ss Ce po Busine s n Tra rs In Yea

s 50

president’s message

From the desk of: joe walsh


s I drive past work zones on the Parkway, Turnpike and other major DOT roadways, I am invariably reminded of the vulnerability of the men and women working in those areas. I often see other drivers not slowing down nor moving over as they approach work zones and am left to think about ways to ensure this happens in the future. Proper police presence in work zones sends an immediate signal for drivers to slow down, but the glaring lack of troopers on our state road jobsites in recent years has led to an increase in driver carelessness. Our Association has discussed the need to police these areas and enforce laws requiring the traveling public to slow down as they approach and move through construction areas. All of this also leads me to think about the inverted way police are used on all roadway work zones. Years ago, the leadership in our state cut back the number of officers in the construction division of the State Troopers. This decision made it more hazardous for contractors working on state roads with high speeds. But take a drive to a municipal job site and you will find several police officers managing the traffic through work zones on local streets that typically have speed limits of 40 MPH or less. I have seen areas where municipal police protection amounts to nothing more than police officers managing traffic from the seat of their vehicle. This type of scenario adds additional costs for the contractor and ultimately, to more money taken out of the pockets of taxpayers and rate payers. Contractors are charged fees from the municipalities for managing the police protection and we are required to post escrow accounts that have little to no transparency or accountability. However, I am encouraged that change is coming. UTCA has aligned itself with other associations and continues to meet with leadership of the PBA. We are trying to develop a solution that does not eliminate the need for municipal police but creates a

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uniform structure for pricing and sets work rules relative to call out, number of police, number of vehicles, and any other variable that does not impact the traveling public and pedestrians. New Jersey utility companies and contractors spend over $100 Million each year on police for traffic control. We need police to support the men and women working in our trenches and in our communities, but we also need that support to be provided at a standard and fair rate appropriate to publicly funded projects. We are responsible for our safety and the safety of pedestrians and vehicles through and around our work zones. The goal of this Association is to make sure we are prudent consumers of the taxpayer trust funds and rate payer money for infrastructure improvements, and not contributing to the already abused state unfunded pension programs. We wish not to dictate a set of solutions, but rather prefer to work with everyone for a fair and equitable solution. In the meantime, we can all do our part in ensuring the safety of our employees on the road by slowing down and moving over as we approach work areas and encouraging our employees, friends and families to do the same. Congratulations to Sparwick Contracting and Transpo Industries on their respective anniversaries. Our industry thrives thanks to the success and longevity of talented firms like yours. All the best to you both in the years to come.

Best regards,

Joe Walsh


Cover 38





Cover story sparwick contracting completes 25 years in construction



2 9 17 29 47 51

56 transpo industries celebrates 50 years

President’s Message legal dig Accounting corner legislative news labor relations the pipeline

NEWS 62 67 71 75

Goethals bridge replacement project improving the health & safety of employees remembering nino colonnelli dave rible joins utca staff

Published Bimonthly During 2019

1670 Route 34 North Farmingdale, NJ 07727 PO Box 728 Allenwood, NJ 08720 PH: (732) 292-4300 FAX: (732) 292-4310

Publisher: Robert A. Briant, Jr. Editor: Helene Nasdeo Editorial Contributors: Zoe Baldwin, Dan Neville, Dan Kennedy Advertising Manager: Helene Nasdeo Production/Graphics: Helene Nasdeo, Lauren Hagan Circulation: Helene Nasdeo Printed By: American Plus Printers Affiliations: ARTBA, Clean Water Construction Coalition UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR (ISSN 0192-4843) is published six times a year by the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, 1670 Highway 34 North, Farmingdale, NJ 07727. Periodical postage paid at Farmingdale, NJ and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR, PO Box 728, Allenwood, NJ 08720.

Utility & Transportation Contractor | february| 2019 3

By: adrienne l. isacoff, florio, perrucci, steinhardt & cappelli


ifferences in subsurface conditions, whether they relate to soil, water or underground utilities, are a frequent source of claim disputes between owners and contractors on public projects. Although there are some differences in the typical specifications used for state and local projects, the general principles used by our courts in reviewing these claims are worth keeping in mind, both at the bidding stage and during performance of the project. The overarching theme expressed by our courts can be summed up pretty simply: both parties have a good faith obligation to disclose significant conditions that they become aware of at every stage of the job. The New Jersey Department of Transportation Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction obligates bidders to carefully examine the conditions of the Project Limits and compare them with the Contract. Article 102.04 provides the following: If conditions of the Project Limits are inconsistent with the Contract or there are discrepancies, conflicts, errors, omissions, or ambiguities within the Contract, the Bidder shall immediately notify the Department as specified in 101.04. The Bidder shall evaluate subsurface conditions to determine how these conditions may affect the methods and cost and time of construction. Article 102.04 further requires bidders to consider all utilities “as revealed by its own investigations.” Notably, the Department may provide boring logs, but these are expressly provided “for information only” and, with respect to any reports or interpretation of the boring logs, the “Department makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee, expressed or implied, by making

reports or interpretations available. With respect to municipal projects, the Local Public Contracts Law, N.J.S.A. 40A:11-23.1 (e) provides that specifications must include the following:

Legal Dig

both owners & contractors have duty to disclose material facts

In the case of a project that includes the removal of soil from the site, disclosure of any documentation relative to the known soil conditions at the site including, but not limited to, any test results specifying the level of contamination, if any, of the soil that has been found at the site of the project, or if a project is located on a site with historical or suspected contamination, a line item allowance or minimum unit price line item for soil testing and contaminated soil disposal, which shall be a good faith effort on the part of the contracting unit to reasonably estimate the total cost of testing the soil and disposing of it. The good faith obligations of the parties with respect to disclosing information to each other has been the subject of considerable litigation in the State. One of the most significant cases on this topic is P.T. & L. Construction Company, Inc. v. NJDOT, 108 N.J. 509 (1987) in which the Court summarized the contractual responsibilities in the face of differing site conditions as follows: (1) when the State makes false representations in its contract documents that are “more than gratuitous” and provides express representations regarding site conditions, it will be liable to the contractor despite a no damage for delay clause for damages flowing from differing site conditions; (2) actual concealment of information known to the State may be considered a false factual representation; (3) inferential conclusions made by contractors from the contract documents will not be considered a false factual representation if there are clear and unambiguous disclaimers of liability by the State. The 2007 Standard Specifications were drafted with these guidelines in mind. The State is seeking to shift risk to the contractor by stating that information such as boring logs are for information only, and any conclusions drawn from them may not give rise to a claim for differing site conditions. However, if the borings or other information is incorrect or – significantly based on the P.T. & L. case – if the State had information that was material and did not disclose it in the bid specifications, then the contractor may have a cause of action for delay.

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Legal Dig

The same reasoning applies to other types of underground conditions. In Structural Concepts, Inc. v. Kean University, 2009 WL 102969 (App. Div. 2009), the Court focused on the contract language that warned the contractor that the location of known utility structures was “approximate” and that the State was not guaranteeing the “accuracy and completeness” of this information. The contractor’s claim for damages based on differing site conditions was denied. The exact obligations placed on the contractor by the terms of the contract is critical in determining whether it may be entitled to damages for differing site conditions. In a case involving fairly common language involving site investigation, SMC Corp., Inc. v. New Jersey Water Supply Authority, 334 N.J. Super. 429 (App. Div. 2000), the Court found in favor of the contractor’s damages claim. The contract required the contractor to “satisfy himself as to the nature and location of the work . . . the physical conditions of the site . . . and all other matters upon which information is reasonably obtainable. . . and “reasonably ascertainable from an inspection of the site.” The Court found that these terms implied that conditions not know to the Authority or to the contractor and which were not “reasonably obtainable” or “reasonably ascertainable” could be the basis of a claim for extra work. Contractors must also bear in mind that they have obligations to disclose to owners. Contract terms typically require disclosure of known discrepancies or errors in the contract documents. Fail-

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ure to adhere to such disclosure requirements may undermine a contractor’s ability to negotiate a fair change order for changed conditions. In Dugan Construction Company, Inc. v. New Jersey Turnpike Authority, 398 N.J. Super. 229 (App. Div. 2008), the bid documents estimated that the project would produce only 55 gallons of wastewater. Dugan wound up charging the NJTA the cost of disposing of 200,000 gallons and, therefore, claimed that it was owed $9.5 million based on the unit price bid. Although the contract required that the contractor advise the owner as soon as facts became known that the field conditions may be different than those reflected in the contract documents, Dugan proceeded to pump out the water without advising the owner that it had already determined that the bid documents had grossly underestimated the quantity to be disposed of. The Court found that the failure to disclose precluded the owner from having an opportunity to issue a change order which would be based on the 25%-overage and negotiated price sections of the contract. Based on this finding, the Court awarded Dugan only $52,330.00 – a far cry from what it likely would have been compensated based on a fair negotiation. TAKEAWAY Both owners and contractors will be held by our courts to operate in good faith in both bidding and performance of the contract. If you see something, say something!

2019 accounting tax & technology check-up By: Jack callahan, partner, cohnreznick llp

What faces the NJ Utility Contractor Industry is a period of great opportunity balanced with some real concerns. In the recent AGC labor results, New Jersey sits at 46 out of 50 states in construction labor growth with a decline in construction employment. This organization’s members can attest to that. The work programs have just not come out consistently. That being said, the infrastructure needs are great, the gas tax funding is in place, and there are active discussions of an increase in the federal gas tax. Are you as an owner, CFO or key management member ready for what is ahead in this quickly changing Accounting, Tax and Technology environment? Tax The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is in effect, and we will see the impact on our soon-to-be filed tax returns. I hope by this time each of you have met with your financial advisor to discuss how you, your business, and employees are likely to be impacted by these wide-ranging changes. We discussed those in detail last year, but the actual limits on State and Local tax deductions will be a tough pill for our clients to accept. Up until late December, the State of NJ debated work arounds, but nothing yet has been implemented. On the positive side, the 100% expensing for new and used equipment and the 20% QBI deduction should be substantial benefits

for our business owners. These issues are complex, and you need to walk through them closely to be certain you maximize the advantage. Financial Statements For some time now, we have spoken about the new accounting pronouncements on Revenue Recognition and Lease accounting. Revenue Recognition is now in effect. Our public contractor clients had to implement in the first quarter of 2018, and our private contractors must implement this new standard for their 12/31/19 financial statements. You need to be working with your accountants now to understand how the new Revenue Recognition standards will impact your company. The Public contractors have given us some insight. While a few had substantial changes, both positive and negative to reported earnings, several others claimed no significant impact. In a few those cases, the SEC has issued comment letters questioning those determinations. We will continue to monitor these issues and will work with our clients to assess their individual impact. The standards are too complex to detail here, but the most significant issues to be aware of are the potential changes to prepaid items such as surety bonds, materials stored in place, and mobilization that may now need to be treated differently. These may need to be capitalized and amortized over the life of the contract. The other area that will affect all contractors is the treatment of Contract Modifications. The dreaded change orders, liquidated damages, and completion bonuses must all be addressed on a real-time basis and management policies and procedures will need to be established and documented. The game has changed and you need to know how your company will be impacted. In the 35 years I have represented contractors, we have been guided by the principles of percentage of completion accounting. We now have new guidelines to operate under.

Accounting Corner


t’s January 2019, and it seems amazing to write the date. CohnReznick’s origins date back to 1919 in Newark, NJ, and contrary to popular belief, I was not present at the founding. However, this year does mark 35 years since I became active with the UTCA of NJ. An awful lot has transpired in that time, and many great business and personal relationships have been formed that I cherish.

Lease accounting is a year away, but that will potentially have a more significant impact on our contractors’ balance sheets. Again, in its simplest terms, our clients will need to book operating leases as an asset and liability on their balance sheet. It will impact your working capital ratios, and thus will impact your prequalification and surety ratings. Work with your accountants now to plan for this coming accounting change, which will impact your December 31, 2020 financial statements and to understand the mathematical computations that will be required. You need to understand how these changes could impact your bank covenants and your prequalification ratings so you can start discussions and planning now.

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Technology The speed at which technology is changing the construction work place is unprecedented. Only 10 years ago, we didn’t have iPhones. If you remember phone booths, fax machines and local hardware stores, then you are closer to my age than you think. In the polls I have seen, the construction industry has been one of the industries with the lowest investment in technology. It is time to work with your advisory team and take a hard look at your technology. Ask the key personnel in your firm their thoughts on your technology and your needs moving forward.

Accounting Corner

• When did you last upgrade your accounting software? • Is your accounting software able to handle the new revenue Recognition and Lease accounting changes? • Are you utilizing remote devices to capture field information and integrating that back with the office accounting software? • Are you taking advantage of BIM, Project estimating, and management software? • When did you last evaluate your IT environment to assess its viability and its security? • Have you performed a cybersecurity assessment? Owners are building cyber protection requirements in their contracts and the cases of computer hacking has become a rampant issue in the construction community. • Have you implemented policies and procedures regarding utilization of phones and technology to meet worker safety concerns as well as protecting the overall system security? Are you ready to meet the technology demands of the next generation of employees? Just as we moved away from using manual spreadsheets to excel schedules, this next generation will want to have access to the latest technology to streamline their day-to-day operations. You must be ready to address these technology needs. The labor shortages will continue to get worse, and there have to be ways to utilize technology both in the field and the office to streamline many of the labor-intensive processes. It is your responsibility to get the conversation started. Meet with your team of trusted advisors, take a hard look at your existing technology, and then listen to the needs of your workforce and plot out your long-term strategy and investment. As you prepare for your financial statement and tax preparations, use this time to address these critical factors. You must assure your company is positioned to handle what the future sends our way. 2019 should be a fascinating year. We at CohnReznick look forward to working with our clients and friends in the UTCA community.

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in the lobby: government affairs & legislation By: zoe baldwin


SENDING OUT AN SOS Amid what seems to be a now-perpetual fiscal crisis fueled by consistent revenue shortfalls, both the President and the Governor found themselves preparing speeches to paint a rosy glow on the state and federal structural deficits. As of this writing, the federal government is still closed for business and the fate of the State of the Union address is in flux. On the homefront however, Governor Murphy delivered the aptly-acronymed State of the State (SOS) address as planned on January 15. Much of the address focused on the tax incentive audit and running down the list of first-year victories. Germain to our industry, Governor Murphy touted the completion of NJ Transit’s positive train control system and passage of the reform bill but acknowledged that there is still much to do, stating he is “Committed to making NJ TRANSIT the turnaround story of New Jersey.” Although we are not holding our breath, we have heard rumblings that this year’s budget will take steps to correct the capital-to-operating-transfer and the Governor’s speech teased at that notion, albeit subtly. During the speech Murphy gave a brief nod to other infrastructure needs, namely water, Portal Bridge, and Gateway tunnel. Murphy ended the annual address by laying out some hefty policy goals left unfinished in 2018, chief among them establishing a $15 minimum wage and legalizing recreational marijuana. As

for the minority response, Republican leadership criticized the Governor’s speech for failing to discuss fiscal reforms, high taxes, and affordability. Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean focused on the unpredictability of the tax rate year over year and called for stabilization, while Assembly Minority Leader John Bramnick noted that none of the 169 bills passed last year addressed fiscal reforms. USE IT OR LOSE IT In the October issue of the Utility & Transportation Contractor, we updated you on the Association’s effort to tighten up the way the New Jersey Department of Transportation allocates local aid funding to local governments. The measure has since been introduced by Senator Paul Sarlo (s2863) and has passed Senate Transportation Committee with friendly-fire amendments that are the result of negotiations with the Association of Counties, Society of Municipal Engineers, and the League of Municipalities. We expect a floor vote by the end of the month and full passage by Spring. ALL ABOUT THAT BASE, ‘BOUT THAT BASE Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) is New Jersey’s largest employer, is the only tri-service military base in the country, and includes active installations of the Air Force, Army, and Navy. The joint base is essential to the health of our state, but without investment JB MDL could face closure actions once again. One key area in which JB MDL can remain nationally competitive is in its training operations. However, access to training space on JB MDL is limited due to the presence of County Route 539, which bisects the base from North to South in Ocean County and is a major artery for shore traffic, especially in warmer weather and on weekends when many reserve component units train at JB MDL. It is therefore difficult and dangerous for units to access the portion of JB MDL which lies east of the 539 roadway. This is especially true for long convoys of slow-moving military vehicles. Ocean County has committed some financing for the design phase, but without support from the State, NJ risks losing missions to other bases. UTCA has been working with our state legislators, our congressional delegation, and the military community to draw attention to the need for this critical project and make sure that we do everything we can to protect the livelihoods of the men and women who protect our freedom.

Legislative News

his February Magazine legislative installment comes to you straight from the post-holiday DMZ, where the federal government is enduring the longest shutdown in US history while the state gears up for a year of major policy initiatives.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE BUT NOT A DROP TO REINVEST For the first time in its history, the Infrastructure Bank will have to turn away drinking water improvement projects due to a lack of funding. UTCA had been working with the

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Legislative News

Governor’s office and DEP to gain consensus on a supplemental appropriation, but as of this writing, the Administration has requested more time to review. This fund is a critical tool for water systems and UTCA will be working to secure funding during the upcoming budget process. NEAR MISS As previously reported, legislation introduced last session that was aimed at stopping wage theft would’ve been bad news for even the best contractors. Introduced by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano in the Assembly and Senator Loretta Weinberg in the Senate, A2903/S1790 intended to punish employers who knowingly withhold wages or benefits from employees. However, the original language made no acknowledgement of existing protections within the prevailing wage system, enabled court proceedings for first time violations, and sought to impose exorbitant disciplinary fees and fines to such an extent that an honest mistake could criminalize a contractor. UTCA worked with allies to amend the bill, which now exempts workers compensated under Prevailing Wage Act as well as construction industry employers and workers who have collective bargaining agreements. The bill had committee hearings in both houses in late January. IN THE HOPPER As previously reported, UTCA has been working with our partners in the engineering community on legislation to enable design-build contracts on state transportation projects. At the time of this writing, the draft is final and will be introduced by the time of publication. We will keep you updated as this important measure makes its way to Governor’s desk. UTCA has also been working with Assembly State Government Chair Vince Mazzeo to introduce A4948, legislation that removes a loophole in Local Public Contracts Law allowing owners to select bidders on certain types of projects. We hope to have a hearing on the bill by Spring. We are also continuing efforts with our friends at the Electrical Contractors Association in support of s2947/a4580, which would require the release of bidders list prior to the bid date. The Senate version, sponsored by Troy Singleton, had its first hearing on January 17 and passed unanimously. We will keep up efforts to pass the bill this year. We will continue to work on these initiatives and will keep you up-to-date you as our efforts progress. IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS Long time champion of infrastructure Congressman Frank Pallone has officially assumed chairmanship of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has arguably the broadest jurisdiction of any non-budget committee. In other good news, one of New Jersey’s newest members of congress, Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-7), has now become one of the newest members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Following the announcement the Congressman was quoted as saying, “It is my pledge that a Democratic House will be friendlier to New Jersey and that revitalizing New Jersey’s infrastructure is among my highest priorities.” This is an important seat for our state, and we’re very excited for Rep. Malinowski to join fellow congressman Donald Payne on this critical committee.

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FINGERS CROSSED Reuters reported in January that 20 high-ranking Trump Administration officials met with the President to discuss a potential infrastructure plan. According to reports, the Administration is considering a 13-year program but has not settled on key issues, including whether it will propose new funding mechanisms. If passed, the package would mirror the longest ever highway funding bill, from 1957 to 1969. The current highway bill expires in September 2020. Last year, President Trump proposed a 10-year, $200 billion plan in an attempt to stimulate $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending. However, the measure never received a vote in Congress, as it would have shifted much of the costs to cities and states. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), has been strong in his message to the White House on the need for significant federal investment telling Politico, “There has to be real money, real investment. We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.” IT’S ONLY PORK WHEN IT’S NOT YOUR DISTRICT Senate and House lawmakers from both parties predict there will be a serious push to bring back earmarks once the government shutdown is finally over — with one exception. Earmarks is a dirty word, so if the specially allocated funds return, they will be referred to as “congressionally directed spending.” Support for bringing back earmarks is not unanimous, but it is growing in both parties as Republicans and Democrats alike say too much power has shifted to the presidency. Republican Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky, who served as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee from 2011 to 2017, when the earmark ban was in effect, spoke for members on both sides of the aisle when he said, “I would favor that. I think I know more about my district than an executive branch bureaucrat who’s never been to Kentucky, and it’s in the Constitution.” Please consider supporting the UTCA PAC, Constructors for Good Government UTCA continues to be a leading voice for the infrastructure construction industry in Trenton and Washington DC. Whether it is providing expert testimony before business and legislative groups or positively effecting the legislative process, UTCA stands alone in its record of achievement for our industry. This success is only possible with your support and more importantly, by supporting the industry PAC: Constructors for Good Government. Please consider contributing as a robust PAC greatly strengthens our voice. Thank you for your continued support.

sparwick contracting: Cover Story

25 years in construction By: zoe baldwin


t’s easy to forget sometimes how interesting our state really is; busy and intricate in some places, calm and pastoral in others. After spending the afternoon with Rick and Brian Fagersten of Sparwick Contracting, I’m struck by the similarities between the 25-year-old contracting firm and the state it works to repair – small, strong, and able to navigate complicated challenges. An unassuming, expanded farmhouse comes into view about halfway up the driveway to the new headquarters of Sparwick Contracting. It’s a wide, simple building that fits perfectly into its bucolic surroundings, nestled amongst farmlands off of a relatively bustling intersection. The reception area is warm and inviting, much like Sharon, who greets me as I come in. Founder Richard (Rick) Fagersten and his son Brian walk me through their new facility, coming together nicely though still not fully lived-in from the 2018 move. The yard is still located at their previous facility, also in Lafayette, as the firm moves through the permit process to construct the necessary maintenance and yard buildings. We sit in the conference room and spend the next hour reflecting on the past two-and-a-half decades of bridges, business, and success. Founded in 1993 by Rick Fagersten and friend Plato Gastonis, Sparwick Contracting has built a solid reputation for producing quality work on complicated projects. The firm prides itself on being a small and nimble GC, focused on self-performance. “When we started out, we had two crews, and now we have five, sometimes six,” Rick tells me. “We’re not really looking to get big. We want to do just a little more than the year before. Growth is the goal - just slow, steady growth. We discuss this a lot.” “The guys out there doing $200 million a year, that’s what they set out to do - that’s their philosophy.” Adds Brian, Rick’s middle son and Sparwick President who joined the firm in 1996. “We know where every guy is, every day, for every job. And we like it that way.“ And control makes sense for a firm well-known for critical problem solving. I ask about their favorite project so far. “All the ones we got paid for,” Rick jokes before a thoughtful pause. “The We-

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Pictured left to right are Brian, Rick and Mark Fagersten in front of the new office.

equahic Park bridge,” he says. “We changed the whole job. The bridge arches over Route 22 and some Conrail tracks, and the job was to replace the deck, you had to cast in place. It’s historic and because of where it is, it impacted a lot of people, so [Essex County Executive] Joe DiVincenzo wanted it done fast.” “I was in the office one day scratching my head, trying to figure out how to form this deck with all these pillars,” Brian starts. “It was very complicated. I have lines all over the place and my dad walks in and just goes, ‘Why don’t you precast it?’ But I didn’t know how you would precast this thing, it didn’t make any sense, so he said just call Bruce Post from Precast Systems. Bruce hooked us up with his engineer Alan Sample, and within a week they had a design. We took it to the county, and they loved it.” In the end, Sparwick’s changes cut the duration of the project by about four months and came in well under budget. “So it was kind of a feel-good thing, everybody came out on top at the end of the job. The engineer looked good, the owner looked good, we looked good; everyone was happy.” In the early years, Sparwick performed bridge work for NJDOT and the Garden State Parkway, as well as Middlesex, Bergen, Hudson, and Morris other Counties. Their first major contract was for the $1.6m replacement of the old Matawan Road Bridge for Middlesex and proved Sparwick’s mettle as a firm that could meet the challenges of a tight schedule while producing quality work. Within five years, Rick was pursuing and winning increasingly diverse and more complex projects, building the firm’s reputation for dams, bridge decks, and superstructures. By the late 1990s, Sparwick expanded its portfolio to include work for the Delaware River Joint Bridge Toll Commission, NJ Transit, and

the NJ Highway Authority (an agency since consolidated into the NJ Turnpike Authority). The past quarter-century has been prosperous for Sparwick and the firm has used that success to leverage an impressive internal capacity in a growing number of niches. Early on, the firm developed substantial expertise in bridge deck repair and began installing asphaltic plug joints on their own work. Rick realized this ability to self-perform was good for business. “We do our

own piles, our own sheeting, and our own structural steel. These are all items we used to sub out,” he says. “There are a million guys that do exactly what we do, so we’ve tried to integrate some of the specialty work that comes along with building or fixing bridges into our scope.” Like many in our industry Rick grew up around construction, taking his first job alongside his father at Sam Braen Construction as a member of the survey crew. After a few years Rick landed at R.A. Hamilton, where he worked with his future business partners Orlando Rodriguez and Dan Carroll and met lifelong friend and colleague Nino Colonnelli. With the help of Dan and his firm, Able Erectors, Rick and Orlando started their first firm, Northeast Bridge.

Pictured left to right are Betty Tousaint and Sharon Fanning, office staff.

But by the late 1980s the economy was faltering, and the nation was on the brink of recession. Northeast Bridge closed its doors, but by then Rick already had a taste for the business and knew he couldn’t spend the rest of his career working for other people. By 1993, Sparwick was born. One founder lived in Sparta, the other Waldwick. “We were always going to change it. We were never that happy with the name, but you know after a while everybody knew it, so we kept it.” Rick remembers. The fledgling firm’s first project was a culvert for Middlesex County followed by the replacement of the Harrison Street Bridge in Nutley. “We had no trucks, just two pieces of equipment (thanks to Bob Binder), so we all just did whatever needed to be done. Sometimes you’re working in the office sometimes you’re out on a job shoveling. But after about a year we were getting some decent work.”

Cover Story

Sussex County Bridge X-09, Rte 565 over Papakating Creek, Wantage Twp. Ready for structural steel.

“You work for other people for enough years and at some point, you say to yourself ‘I think I can do that,’” Rick jokes about taking that first leap into business ownership. “We kind of flew blind in the beginning; though it’s a little easier once you get it rolling. Orlando and I got together. He was a PE and an estimator, and I ran field. Dan was a steel erector and already had a company, so we bid the first few jobs under his name which made it a lot easier to get going. And then it just grew from there.”

In 1996, Brian graduated Penn State with a degree in landscape contracting and decided to join his father in the family business. “When you get a partner, it can be great or you can start butting heads.” Rick says that initially he was unsure of whether bringing in his son would put a strain on the relationship, “But Brian said, ‘Don’t worry it’s going to be alright.’ And it was alright. It has not made it more difficult, I’ll tell you that for sure.” Brian jumps in to add, “One thing we always wonder about companies that aren’t family businesses is who they bounce things off. We bounce everything off of each other and whether it’s a personal or financial decision, there’s no agenda. In that way it’s great.” Now Vice President, Rick’s youngest son Mark joined the team in 2003. He earned his masters from Stevens Institute of Technology while working for the firm, and then went on to get his professional engineering license. “Mark is the smart one, so he went into college with the mindset that he was going to work for Sparwick. He went for civil engineering and as soon as he came out, rolled right into the company.” Brian tells me. “We all live within a half mile of each other and have maybe one argument a year. We literally talk about everything, and it’s all the time. On a Sunday when I go over for dinner, we talk about work.” He laughs and adds, “It’s probably annoying to our wives.” Rick Fagersten built a legacy for his family and in the process, developed an extended family of people across the industry: Rick Kreppel and his firm Genesis Engineering have lent their expertise in temporary structures and field design to Sparwick, and just moved into an office in the same building as the contractor; Ironbound Sandblasting owner Rossini D’Acosta became a

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Cover Story

close family friend and just moved to Sparta; and Fred Kurfehs of Orchard Holdings and Kevin Flynn of Kevco Electric were lifesavers during slow times in 2014. But Rick’s closest friend from their early days at RA Hamilton was Nino Colonnelli, owner of Colonnelli Brothers, Inc. “When Nino first graduated college,” Rick says, “I was running a widening job on the Garden State Parkway in Paramus and Washington Twp. His family had always worked for Hamilton and Nino came out on that job and we got to be friends. He was twenty-two or twenty-three years old at the time. We ended up going into business at the same time and our families grew close - we’d go boating and flying together. They’re just a wonderful bunch of people, and we lost Nino so suddenly this year.” “I used to call Nino three times a week and he would do the same.” Brian says. “If we got in a jam with a utility they’d come out and help us, and if they got in a jam with some sheet piling or something, we’d go and help them. We always worked together.” Later in our conversation Brian would reiterate the importance of those relationships, saying, “The best part about UTCA is the same thing we said about Nino or Fred, or any of our close friends. It's meeting people that are in the same exact position as you, becoming friends with them and talking to them regularly. It’s good for business, and it’s nice because the people are relatable. They actually know what you’re going through every day.” Rick has been a regular attendee of the UTCA Executive Seminars and says he finds them very helpful, “Because you really get to spend time with people and get to know them. We’ve made real friendships just from doing that.”

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Sussex County Bridge X-09

With Brian at the helm and a brand-new HQ underway, the next twenty-five years are shaping up to be even more successful than last. At one point early in the interview, Brian said, “We’re not big businessmen; we’re involved with construction.” It struck me that there is something very reassuring about that statement. Something simultaneously strong and humble, direct and thoughtout, something very much befitting of the firm itself. BUILDING BRIDGES… SAVING LIVES

MeToo? dosen't have to be By: michael dee & greg trif, o'toole scrivo


ver the past eighteen months, we have seen the impact of the #MeToo movement affect nearly every industry across the country. One thing is plain – the construction industry is not immune. Contractors, like many other employers, are rightfully taking proactive steps to ensure that any unlawful harassment (whether based on sex, gender, race, national origin or any other protected category) is identified and corrected appropriately. These preemptive steps are important, not only to root out unlawful behavior and ensure that it stops, but also to defend against any meritless claims, reduce exposure to costly litigation and judgments, and minimize a public relations nightmare.

1. The Majority of Our Workforce is From the Union Hall; Can We Rely on the Union or Trade Association to Ensure a

No. To be clear, unions and trade associations can and should play a vital role in eliminating harassment in the workplace. However, in most circumstances, it is the contractor’s responsibility – not the union or trade association – to provide a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. As a result, contractors should have their own anti-harassment policy, complete with a well-known process for reporting complaints of harassment. 2. To Whom Should the Policy Apply? Ideally, everyone. Under state and federal law, an employer has an obligation to provide a workplace that is free of unlawful harassment. In addition, many government and private contracts separately require that contractors maintain policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment in the workplace. There is no exception if the harasser or accused is represented by a union. Likewise, there is no exception if the harasser is a vendor, or employee of a different contractor working at the site. Accordingly, to be effective, any anti-harassment policy must be crafted to ensure that the workplace is free from harassment and discrimination for all employees regardless of the source of the harassment. In fact, contractors should consider including provisions in subcontracts that require their subcontractors to maintain and enforce an effective anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy. 3. Must I Negotiate the Policy with the Union?

Labor Relations

As most employers are aware, the first line of defense to claims of unlawful harassment is an effective anti-harassment policy. In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court in two companion cases mapped out a potential affirmative defense for employers under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) in sexual harassment cases. Also known as the Faragher/Ellerth Defense, an employer may avoid liability for harassment if it can demonstrate: (1) it took reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment in the workplace (i.e., implemented an effective anti-harassment policy); and (2) the aggrieved employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the employer’s preventative or corrective measures. This front line defense is no less critical in the construction industry; it does, however, present some unique challenges for contractors. Below are answers to some questions all contractors should consider today.

Workplace Free from Harassment?

It depends. In general, an employer or its authorized representative must negotiate with the union any material changes to terms and conditions of employment. Such duty often includes the implementation of anti-harassment policies; however, a review by legal counsel of the specific policy to be implemented and the applicable collective bargaining agreement is necessary to determine what bargaining obligations may exist. 4. What Should Be in the Policy? At a minimum, the policy must prohibit unlawful discrimination; however, contractors should consider broader protections than what the law requires. The policy also should place an obligation on all employees to report any conduct violative of the

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policy, regardless of whether that conduct was directed at them. Finally, any effective anti-harassment policy must have strong anti-retaliation provisions and confirm for any would-be complainant that he or she will not be subject to any retaliation for having raised a complaint of harassment or otherwise cooperated with an investigation. 5. How Should I Disseminate the Policy? Effectively. A critical element of any anti-harassment policy is notice to the employees. If employees are not provided with a copy of the anti-harassment policy confirmed by a written acknowledgement, the existence of such a policy may be of no benefit to anyone. Accordingly, all new hires should be provided a copy of the policy and required to sign an acknowledgement that he or she has received the policy, read it, understands it, and confirms that he or she will comply with it.

Labor Relations

6. How Should a Complaint of Harassment Be Investigated? Promptly and thoroughly. In order for an anti-harassment policy to be effective, an employer must take swift and appropriate remedial action. A precursor to any remedial action is conducting a thorough investigation. In conducting such an investigation, the first question that needs to be determined is whether the investigation should be conducted by an outside party or inhouse staff. Again, that determination will depend on a variety of a factors, including the nature of the complaint, the identity of the accused, and the availability and capability of the employer’s staff. Once the ‘who’ is determined, the next question is ‘how.’ How an investigation is conducted depends largely on the particular circumstances presented. Typically, such an investigation should include interviews with the relevant witnesses, including the complaining party and accused, and the gathering of documents (including e-mails and text messages). Other considerations in any workplace investigation include whether the witnesses will be prohibited from discussing the investigation with co-workers

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and whether and to whom the identity of the accused may or must be disclosed. To make matters even more complicated, the National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission – the two federal agencies that have the greatest stake on these matters – currently take inconsistent views on these issues, and others. As such, careful consideration must be given to the particular circumstances presented and the conflicting regulatory schemes throughout the entire investigation process. 7. What Should a Contractor Do if It Finds an Employee Has Violated the Policy? Again, it depends. The key is that the remedial action taken is effective. To be effective, the remedial action must stop the alleged harassment. Such action can take the form of additional training, changing work assignments, and discipline up to and including termination, among other measures. What remedial measure is appropriate will depend on the circumstances. In today’s world, the question is when, not if, a contractor will be faced with an accusation that one of its employees has engaged in unlawful discrimination or harassment. Contractors need to take steps today to ensure that when it occurs (and it will occur), they are in the best possible position to either end the unlawful conduct or defend the meritless claim. MEMBER NOTICE: UTCA, by and through Construction Contractors Labor Employers, is in the process of negotiating successor collective bargaining agreements on behalf of its members. The issues addressed here, among others, will be at the forefront of those discussions. About the Authors. . . Michael Dee, a partner at O’Toole Scrivo, rep-

resents employers in a wide range of labor and employment matters. Greg Trif, also a partner at O’Toole Scrivo, represents developers, general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers in all areas of law affecting the construction industry including contract claims, project crisis management, labor and employment disputes and business torts.

utca's water infrastructure investment program By: dan kennedy, director of environmental & utility operations


ontractors have had a front row view of the deteriorated condition of New Jersey’s water infrastructure assets. Few reading this piece will learn for the first time that drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems face significant challenges related to historic underinvestment. UTCA is not the first to come to this conclusion and in a perfect world, we would not have to step into a leadership role to overcome these challenges. Pure and simple, the problem is inaction—or better stated, the lack of meaningful action to make a dent in the long-standing issues with our water infrastructure. We are treading water, doing only just enough to avoid disaster. This is a failed approach, and we are already dealing with the repercussions of this inaction.

"Investment in water infrastructure at the local, state & federal level will foster healthier communities & a strong economy, will ensure new job growth & will increase our economic competitiveness as a state." - Dan Kennedy

More than just money, the four goals and corresponding actions presented in this document create a clear structure of accountability and investment for all New Jersey water systems: statewide capital planning; capacity building; project prioritization; and a reduction in project review times and costs. So why should you care about UTCA’s strategy for water infrastructure? Sometimes it can seem as though these types of documents are a dime a dozen and without implementation, have absolutely no impact. UTCA understands this. The difference here, is that all the actions UTCA is recommending are possible and within reach. If the actions being recommended are implemented, the construction industry and the residents of the State will benefit from: • Doubling of the annual rate of investment in water infrastructure assets, from an estimated $1B to a rate of at least $2B per year for the next 20 years

The Pipeline

Our residents and businesses clearly rely heavily on water infrastructure every day. Most people never give pipes a second thought, so long as there is water flowing from the tap and a properly flushing toilet. Up to this point, the mounting needs of our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems have largely been addressed in public discourse through the lens of symptoms such as unsafe drinking water or desired outcomes such as fewer flood events. However, defining a problem in terms of its symptoms obscures the real cause, and in turn, proposed solutions fail to truly address the underlying issue: a lack of governance and process.

fective manner. Unlike many other problems facing New Jersey, we know how to fix this. Replacement and upgrades of these assets (aka construction), after utility-driven asset management plans are in place, is the primary way out of this mess.

• Existing and new revenue will be targeted to upgrades in existing systems resulting in a state of good repair for these systems • Water systems will be ready to meet the challenges / opportunities in a cost-effective manner

The comprehensive statewide water infrastructure investment strategy that UTCA is advocating for, (see: water) presents an efficient and sensible approach to improving our water infrastructure systems in a transparent and cost-ef-

The benefits clearly go past the construction industry. Investment in water infrastructure at the local, state, and federal level will foster healthier communities and a stronger economy, will ensure new job growth and will increase our economic competitiveness as a state. According to a recently published study from ARTBA (see:, if these anticipated

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outcomes become a reality, the following broader benefits can be expected:

ress and accountability for ratepayers, while also leveling the regulatory playing field across the state.

• Sales and output by businesses in all sectors is expected to increase by $2.1B. These investments will contribute $1.2B to the state’s GDP.

While funding is certainly a primary driver in advancing water infrastructure projects, we must avoid the trap of being either dissuaded by or led by the cumulative price tag of the work. Increasing capital investment is an unavoidable aspect of fixing this problem; but without a structured process to ensure accountability and fairness, new money will do little to address the root cause.

• 13,787 jobs would be supported or created throughout the state economy • These workers will earn $739.5M with $143.1M in additional state and local tax revenues, including: $62.8M in state and federal payroll taxes; $61.1M in state income tax and CBT revenues; and $19.3M in state and local sales and use tax revenues.

The Pipeline

Water infrastructure-like transportation and energy infrastructure-is a basic building block of our economy and quality of life and should be stewarded as such. In order to achieve the desired outcomes–cleaner drinking water, less flooding, etc.–we must first establish a statewide, structural relationship between our water systems, regulators and lawmakers, the NJ Infrastructure Bank and state agencies (DEP, DCA, BPU). Instituting a transparent and cyclical statewide planning process along with a corresponding annual capital program creates a platform of prog-

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Similarly, there is no silver bullet. The nuances of each system are unique and a continued partnership with them is an essential component of any successful program. The exact investments for each system cannot be dictated from a central office in Trenton. Keeping an open dialogue between regulators and the systems they regulate is imperative. The time for talk is over. Now, we must get to work. Beyond the health and environmental benefits, this work will create good jobs for the long-term, will accelerate economic development opportunities, and will increase opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Feature Story

transpo industries celebrates 50 years By: zoe baldwin “Do well by doing good.” A quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and oft repeated by Arthur M. Dinitz, the charismatic safety innovator behind Transpo Industries. We spoke with Transpo’s President, Karen Dinitz, and CEO Michael Stenko in the final days of the firm’s 50th year, to hear about the past half-century of saving lives through innovation. Arthur formed the company in 1968 to sell water-filled, energy-absorbing bumper systems that were installed on thousands of New York City taxis, buses, and emergency vehicles. Originally named Hydro Cell, Ltd, the firm’s hydraulic bumpers protected vehicles and the passengers they carry and are the forerunner to the 5mph bumpers found on all modern cars. At the time, the technology was revolutionary. Designed to protect vehicles in low-speed collisions and easily installed on existing fleets, the bumpers consisted of a water chamber with restricted openings that allowed for controlled escape of water upon impact. During a crash, the hollow, plastic bumpers would absorb the impact of the collision by forcing loose plugs that ran along the top. Several gallons of water would spray upward, dousing the vehicles but ultimately minimizing damages from the crash. It was an ingenious concept that sent Arthur Dinitz along his life mission. More than an entrepreneur, Arthur was a true believer in his

Arthur M. Dinitz demonstrating the safety of the Hydro Cell in front of the Life Magazine photographers.

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One of 100 Wayfinding signs in and around Princeton University installed by Transpo's Break Safe® breakaway supports.

products. To prove his faith, he once stood on a loading dock and allowed a cab equipped with Hydro Cell bumpers to crash into his legs. He suffered no injuries, and actually made the pages of LIFE Magazine with his publicity stunt. “He saw a need for safety, and that kind of grew in his mind and in his heart for the next forty-seven years,” Michael tells me. “He passed away three years ago now, but what he did was develop a company that brought more and more safety products to not only New York, but all over the country.” In fact, the firm has grown to encompass several divisions including safety, materials, and distribution, and in 2018 they shipped to seventeen countries around the world. To Arthur, safety was more than just a job; it was a calling. So much so, that it became embedded in the very fiber of his company. “Every year at the holiday party, Art would deliver a speech and he would say, ‘Think of how many lives we saved just over the last twelve months!’” Michael remembers. “Well if you go back and think about how many we’ve saved over the past fifty years, it’s probably in the tens of thousands if not more. That’s our pride and joy.“ Before long, the fledgling firm realized that there was more it could be doing to protect the motoring public. By the mid-1970s the company had changed its name to better reflect its new array of products, and Arthur continued to diversify. Some products were licensed technology like the Hydro Cell, but the core of the company is built around products designed in-house. The firm has supplied crash cushions and impact attenuators to the State of New Jersey for forty years and has developed everything from frangible sign post couplings and highway glare screens, to polymer concrete materials and precast technology for rapid rehabilitation and preservation of bridges, roads, tunnels and runways.

“Everything we do started not with our idea, but with seeing a problem and finding the solution,” Karen explains. “Our sales people will actually go out and walk into engineering firms or departments of transportation and say, ‘Tell me what problems you’re having.’ And we enjoy solving them, I think that it’s part of our DNA.”

“Mike is quite shy about this,” Karen adds. “But he’s on a number of committees in the industry. He’s one of the leading polymer materials experts in the country, and we’re very active with ARTBA, AASHTO, and others. I always find it interesting as well, that the companies we are with on these industry efforts are probably ten, twenty, two-hundred times the size of us. A lot of people who come from smaller companies don’t think they can get involved, or should get involved, and they leave it to the bigger companies. We feel that we’re part of the industry and need to have a voice.” “What we try to do,” Mike continues, “In the legal world, they call it pro bono work - but again, our company philosophy is that if you’re not contributing to the wellbeing and success of the total industry, then you really can’t complain. So we spend an awful lot of time doing work that is not directly sales related

Feature Story

“One of the ways we expanded,” Michael adds, “was through our involvement in local and national organizations, even international. Going to meetings and listening to people talk about the products they’ve developed or needs that they have. We’re constantly looking at new products. We’ve tried and failed, and that’s what growth is.” In fact, listening and talking are two of the main tools Transpo has used to develop many of its signature products. An early lesson in the value of meetings came in the late 70s when Arthur attended an industry conference in Europe where heard about a miracle product called polymer concrete. “Nobody in the US was using it. He learned about it, came back, learned more about it, and two years later was one of the first to bring the technology to the US. We set up a small manufacturing operation in New Rochelle, and here we are thirty years later with a 50,000sqft plant in Pennsylvania that manufactures polymer concrete - all because Arthur talked to someone at a meeting.”

stall, and was able to demonstrate that it was more efficient to use a company that had inventory and could supply materials with a quick turnaround time. “They no longer use their system, they use ours. That’s our Break-Safe system. It’s a real matter of pride when you can get a state to move away from something that they’ve developed and used for twenty-five or thirty years to switch from their product to your product. That’s a major accomplishment.” Michael says.

I ask about the difficulty of bringing totally new products to market - especially in an industry often loathe to change - and I saw a theme starting to emerge. Listening and talking – or in other words, education – was the key to not only Transpo’s early success, but also to its sustained growth and culture of continuous innovation. The firm’s initial strategy was to fill a need in the market – namely increasing safety in low-speed crashes – but that strategy soon evolved into one focused on compelling the market to discover the need. NJDOT for example, had developed its own sign base system that had been in use for several decades, but their system was cumbersome for contractors and expensive to install. Transpo Industries listened to the complaints from builders and owners, developed a new system that was cheaper and easier to in-

Large 2 post signs installed near NJ641 on Transpo's Breakaway sign supports.

to our company, but eventually we hope will improve the entire industry so that our company, as well as our competitors, benefit from some of the groundwork we laid through specifications and association work we’re involved in. It’s a long gestation cycle for product success in this industry. ”

Celebrating 50 years with the employees in New Rochelle, NY.

Another contributing factor to the firm’s longevity has been their focus on information and problem solving over sales. Since Karen, Arthur’s daughter, took on the Presidency in 2016, there has been a renewed focus on information sharing. Transpo’s website hosts a treasure trove of data and instructional videos, and even a cursory google search turns up countless academic articles and presentations produced by the firm. “When you put information like that out into the world, you attract the world.” Michael noted. “We like being the consultants to the consultants – we don’t have to sell something every time. If we have the knowledge or

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Feature Story

can point a contractor in the right direction when they can’t fix what they’re trying to fix or do what needs to get done, I hope they feel free to call us up.” “We’re not lawyers, you know,” he adds with a laugh. “We’re not charging by the hour just to talk on the phone.” Looking forward, Karen and Michael are excited to see the younger generation of engineers more open to new technology. They’re also hoping that a legislative initiative currently underway in Washington will ease federal restrictions on state departments of transportation and government agencies from buying patented products. The 100+ year-old law has crimped innovation in the transportation industry by making it difficult, costly, and time consuming for companies like Transpo to take patentable products and materials to the public market. During their five decades in business, Transpo Industries and their staff have received numerous accolades for their advocacy to make travel safer for both people and the infrastructure they use each day. A major distinction awarded to Arthur Dinitz in 2004 was from our national affiliate, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association. ARTBA gave high honors to the founder, naming him as one of America’s Top 100 Private Sector Transportation Design and Construction Professionals of the 20th Century.

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Utility workers installing luminaire on Pole-Safe® breakaway supports.

“We truly believe that we are part of the society that is using our products,” Karen noted earlier on in the interview. “We pay taxes, we drive on the roads, we have kids that we want to keep safe, and our products help do that.” It is clear that Arthur’s unflagging faith in his products and his instinct to innovate built a solid foundation that will support Transpo Industries for the next fifty years to come.


goethals bridge replacement project unique solutions one of many that drove project By: bill wilson, roads & bridges magazine


here were fingers showing in the marshy, swampy area in Staten Island, N.Y.

Any engineer would designate the scene for the Goethals Bridge Replacement Project as somewhat horrific. Located in a low-lying, wet and environmentally sensitive area, the New York side of the crossing offered design and construction challenges right from the get-go. The span connects Staten Island, N.Y., to Elizabeth, N.J., but the New Jersey side, with 12 lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike, four Conrail freight line tracks, an inactive historic rail trestle, additional local rail crossings and two local roads, was every bit as challenging as the swampy New York end. In order to get to where they needed to be on Staten Island, an access road had to be constructed—wide enough for construction equipment but small enough to honor permit requirements— down the center of the alignment between the eastbound and westbound structures. Stemming from this road were “fingers.” At each pier location, a finger was constructed perpendicular to the access road and was used for access to construct the piers, as well as locations for crane setups. The access road and fingers consisted mainly of unreinforced and reinforced soil and was pile-supported in the area adjacent to Old Place Creek. Not all complications were known up front. It was discovered that a warehouse by Old Place Creek and in the footprint of the N.J. footing of the eastbound tower was contaminated with asbestos. The demolition pushed back the construction schedule. The joint venture of Kiewit-Weeks-Marine and designer Parsons kicked into high gear. Originally the plan was to have a single tower support both eastbound and westbound. Parsons decided to build two separate bridges, each with a tower. However, when the demolition of the warehouse took longer than anticipated, Kiewit-Weeks-Marine asked Parsons to re-sequence the design and focus on the westbound structure instead, and an access trestle was constructed. Because the site is just a few miles from Newark Liberty International Airport, maximum tower height was 272 ft, which drove unusually shallow cable angles. A

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unique anchor box shaped like a saddle allowed the cables to be stacked more tightly than a traditional anchor box, increasing the stay angles. It also allowed for the anchor boxes to be placed on the outside facing the towers, which allowed Parsons to keep the profiles for the towers slender. “None of the steel fabricators would even bid on it until we printed a 3-D model,” Seth Condell, design manager for Parsons, told Roads & Bridges. The access road and five-span aligned trestle, which also was used for access, will be used for future maintenance. Project: Goethals Bridge Replacement Project Location: Staten Island, N.Y., and Elizabeth, N.J. Owner: Port Authority of NY & NJ Designer: Parsons Contractor: Kiewit-Weeks-Massman joint venture Cost: $1.5 billion Length: 7,300 ft Completion Date: Dec. 31, 2018 This article appeared in the November 2018 edition of Roads & Bridges and was reprinted with permission from the author.

resolutions for 2019: By: nancy damato, rda benefit services


s we begin a new year, let us reflect on the fact that our companies would not be so successful if it were not for our greatest assets—our employees. Much more emphasis is now being placed on improving our health and well-being. As a matter of fact, Bernard Health recently noted that the price of insufficient U.S. employee health is about $530 billion a year! So, how can we help make our workforce healthier and more productive in the years to come?

Many companies are realizing there is a definite need for Workplace Wellness programs and they are also realizing that a multiyear program can have significant positive results. But even before you consider a wellness initiative, it is important to ensure your employees understand and use the comprehensive benefits available to them through their health plan. Every year, insurance carriers are adding extra benefits to their plans that employees can be taking advantage of. Now, many group health plans include: • Telemedicine and access to a nurse line to answer questions 24/7 • Incentives and discounts for health and wellness expenses, such as exercising and gym memberships, weight loss plans and more • Online health coaching programs and access to a health library • Treatment cost estimator for a wide variety of services • Disease management programs • Pharmacy assistance • Employee assistance programs for personal and financial matters • Access to workplace health screenings and educational seminars, depending on the size of your group. To enhance a culture of long-term health in your organization, consider implementing an integrated wellness program. • An initial employee health assessment will help you to determine the goals of the program you want to create. • A comprehensive program is then created, based on the leading health risk factors identified through the health assessments, and goals are established.


improving the health & safety of our employees • Creating various types of wellness campaigns encourages the participation of the employees. Examples at one company include providing employees with stretch bands and a fitness tracker to providing additional water hydration stations to sponsoring a 5K. • Having a fully engaged management team and HR department will also contribute to the success of the program. Designating team leaders as wellness champions also encourages employee participation. • An incentive plan will also help motivate employees to become engaged in this program. Providing monetary incentives definitely encourages employee participation! Completing health assessments, biometric screenings and working with a health coach are some examples of ways the incentive can be earned. Every year many of us make New Year’s resolutions, but very few of us follow through and actually achieve them. These types of programs aim to change all that. And these programs are producing positive results: One company’s program has seen an overall reduction in health risks by 8.6% and a 3.5% reduction in health care spending. The results of an integrated wellness program go beyond the improved health of your employees. They can decrease the amount of lost productivity and reduce worker’s compensation claims. Businesses have also seen lower absences, higher employee retention, lower healthcare costs, and improved job satisfaction. Remember this is a multi-year program that aims to change the culture of your organization. So, as you think about the goals and initiatives for your firm in 2019, consider your workforce and imagine what the positive impact of a culture of wellness and safety can do! To learn more about these types of programs and how your company can benefit, please feel free to contact us at 855-693-0772. About the Author…Nancy Damato is a partner at RDA Benefit Services, LLC. RDA Benefit Services has been providing comprehensive employee benefit programs to UTCA member firms for over 20 years. To learn more about the benefit programs we provide, please contact us at 855-693-0772.

• A wide variety of individual and group activities are designed to meet those goals, so that the activities can be completed individually or in a group setting, in person or online.

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By: The Colonnelli Family


he New Jersey construction industry very suddenly lost one of its own in November with the passing of Nino Colonnelli, founder of Colonnelli Brothers, Inc. We’d like to take a moment here to remember our friend and colleague who left us all too soon. Nino was born on May 24, 1963 in the small village of Torrice, about an hour outside of Rome, and emigrated with his family in 1970 to Hackensack, New Jersey. While Nino was in high school, his father Umberto and his uncle Angelo worked for RA Hamilton Corporation of Hackensack. On weekends, the brothers worked side jobs paving driveways, repairing sidewalks, and completing various other small projects. As Nino grew up, he would join the family, working alongside them when he could. Upon graduating Hackensack High School in 1981, Nino attended Fairleigh Dickenson University of Teaneck. In the spring of 1985, he became the first college attendee and graduate of the family, earning a Bachelor of Science in Construction Engineering Technology. His first opportunity upon graduation was to join RA Hamilton as a project superintendent. After only several months, Nino decided that he was ready to venture off with his own business along with his Uncle Angelo and his father, Umberto.

Umberto, Angelo & Nino Colonnelli

On March 11, 1986 Colonnelli Brothers, Incorporated was founded. The first home base of the company became a small office on John Street in Hackensack. During the company’s early years, Nino worked on jobsites as a Local 472 laborer during the day, and returned to the John Street office at night to complete the necessary paperwork. As the company grew, a larger office and yard was needed, sparking the family to purchase the new yard at 160 Green Street in Hackensack. The Green Street yard remained home base until 1994 when an even larger property at 409 South River Street was purchased. This office and yard, which also formerly belonged to RA Hamilton, remains as


remembering nino colonnelli the primary location of the company to this day. Nino had a knack for innovation that helped Colonnelli Brothers Inc. grow consistently through the years. He had a grand vision for the fledgling company and worked tirelessly to see it come to fruition. He was pivotal in helping the company become a stronghold name in the industry of bridge building as well as the installation of underground utilities. He guided the company to construct countless bridges and culverts, install hundreds of miles of gas mains, and a myriad of other projects including an indoor ice rink. Nino always upheld a mindset of “any job is possible,” which helped the company portfolio expand. Nino always had a vision of his company growing and expanding, but most importantly, he had the right skills and the right team to make his dream come to life. Nino’s expertise enabled him to realize his vision, growing the company from a humble handful of employees and a small yard on John Street into the 100+ person, multi-location operation it is today. His motto in younger years was “measure twice, cut once,” which eventually evolved into the official company motto: “do it right, the first time.” Over the years Colonnelli Brothers took on a diverse array of projects from large dams to indoor ice rinks, snow plowing major highways for NJDOT to installing gas mains and services throughout northern New Jersey for PSE&G. Eventually the company expanded into New York, adding on contracts with Orange and Rockland Utilities, also installing gas mains and services. In the early 2000s Nino won a large project through Orange and Rockland installing 6 miles of 20” steel gas main in Orange County, New York. A project that seemed overwhelming to others was successfully completed on time and on budget. Over the years, Nino had built a reputation as a reliable, brilliant construction mind. His ever-optimistic personality was infectious and caused many colleagues and business affiliates to seek both his friendship and his advice. Nino befriended Rick Fagersten of Sparwick Contracting (Lafayette, NJ) in the mid 1990’s. Although competitors in business, the families often spent time flying airplanes and boating together. Nino earned his aviation license, his six-pack boating captain’s license as well as a Class A Commercial Driver’s License, and loved spending time in Block Island, Florida, and Maine with his wife Lisa, daughters Stefani and Alexandra, son Nino Gianmarco, and yellow lab Baxter. In 2016, Nino’s son Nino Gianmarco graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and joined the family business. Nino instilled in Nino Gianmarco the same work ethic, expertise, and knowledge as Angelo and Umberto did for him so many years ago. He and his family will carry on Nino’s legacy by doing the things he loved and helping his business grow and thrive, as he would have wanted.

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n January 2019 David Rible, of Wall Township joined the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association. Dave will serve as Director of Labor Relations while also assisting the UTCA team with other projects. Prior to UTCA Dave served as the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control from July 2017 to December 2018. As Director, Dave was responsible for the oversight of the manufacturing, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages in New Jersey. He also had oversight and control of the Regulatory, Enforcement, Investigative and Licensing Bureaus of the NJABC. Dave previously worked as a Wall Township police officer and Detective. In 2007 Dave was elected to serve in the NJ General Assembly and was a member of the Assembly Law & Public Safety, Education and Higher Education committees. While an Assemblyman, Dave was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Assembly Republican Conference Leader. In this role, he guided the discussion on legislation in the Assembly Republican Caucus and helped to implement the agenda of the Assembly Republicans. In addition, he is known for working in a bi-partisan manner in order to further his commitment to making the state more affordable. Dave served for ten years representing both the 11th and 30th Legislative Districts here in NJ


dave rible joins utca staff A former small business owner, Dave Rible served as president of the Southern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce and as a member of its executive board. In the Legislature, he was known as a staunch advocate for improving New Jersey’s business climate. For his efforts, he has been honored by the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers, the Shore Builders Association, the New Jersey Travel Industry Association and the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce. Dave is also a former captain and president of the Belmar Fire Department and is a life member. In addition, he served on the Belmar First Aid Squad and as an assistant scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America. Dave is also the past president of Wall Helps Its People [WHIP], a nonprofit organization that helps local citizens in need. He also serves as board member for the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers. Dave previously graduated from the NJ State Police Academy for Municipal Officers as well as the NJ Division of Criminal Justice Academy. He majored in Criminal Justice through Brookdale Community College and Seton Hall University. Dave is a graduate of Asbury Park High School. Dave has deep roots in the Monmouth County area. He was born and raised in Belmar, and later moved to Wall Township where he now resides with his wife Jacqueline and daughter, Emilee Grace.

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Profile for UTCA

Utility and Transportation Contractor February 2019  

Utility and Transportation Contractor February 2019  

Profile for utca