The Middlesex Corp.

When clients need heavy civil projects built with high quality and safety on time in New York or Florida, they contact The Middlesex Corp. Headquartered in Littleton, Mass., with offices in Orlando, Fla., and Newington, Conn., The Middlesex Corp. can design, build and renovate highways, bridges, marine, rail and transportation structures, and perform site development on large parcels. The company also has the bonding capacity to complete projects up to $1 billion in aggregate.

Among The Middlesex Corp.’s projects for transit agencies in New England and Florida are yard rail or track work extensions to miles of commuter rail, track bed preparation and continuous welded rail construction. The company also has extensive experience in building high-level passenger station platforms and signalized rail crossings.

For marine projects, The Middlesex Corp. has a fleet of modern construction equipment and can install sub-aqueous pipes; build water and tidal control structures, piers and high-level bridges; dredge bodies of water; and perform underwater demolition. All of this can be done with quality and safety while meeting all environmental regulations.

In Florida, The Middlesex Corp. specializes in asphalt paving as well as heavy civil construction. The company also manufactures its own asphalt. Its plant in Orlando has a total hourly production capacity of 650 tons and 1,800 tons of hot storage. The company says it has produced the most tons in the state for a single facility of all standard bituminous concrete designs required in Florida since it began production. It does this using environmentally responsible technology.

The Middlesex Corp. manufactures and installs close to 1 million tons of asphalt annually in Florida. It has certified testing laboratories and provides its own in-house staff of quality control technicians in its labs and on the roadway. The company also processes its own recycled asphalt with its own portable crushing facility.

“The Southeast paving division continues to dominate the greater Orlando area, holding onto approximately a 50 percent marketshare,” says Senior Vice President of Construction Dave Skerrett, who works in the Northeast.

A separate group led by President Al Aponas heads the Florida operation of The Middlesex Corp. The projects in Florida include heavy civil construction similar to the type done in the Northeast. “We do a lot of design/build in Florida because we have a really robust program down there, and FDOT is a strong advocate of design/build,” Skerrett says. “Although we have done design/build in the Northeast, it’s not as prevalent as in the South.”

Latest Technology

The Middlesex Corp. uses technology extensively in its projects to save time, increase efficiency and reduce costs. “We put a high emphasis on maintaining and updating our equipment on a continual basis,” Skerrett stresses. “We provide our team members with the best tools and equipment that we possibly can.”

This includes using GPS on all its grading and construction equipment to guide it around a site. “The use of this equipment has helped our efficiency considerably,” Skerrett explains. 

Over the last year, The Middlesex Corp. has been distributing iPads to all its foremen and superintendents. “We electronically upload work hours and equipment hours for job costing,” Skerrett says. “The iPads also are used for daily diaries to make notes of specifics on a daily basis, such as weather, field directives or delivery issues. We also recently have been introduced to plan grid software, which we have loaded on the iPads, which allows our field groups the ability to access plans, make notes and send pictures, all with fingertip control.”

Additionally, The Middlesex Corp. is experimenting with small drones equipped with cameras to investigate sites and document the progress of jobs.

The Middlesex Corp. is committed to finishing projects on time. Skerrett and Aponas meet every two weeks with the owners of the company either by conference call or in person to talk about each project. As at all of its meetings, safety updates and discussions are the first topic.

Recent Projects

Among current projects by The Middlesex Corp. is a $130 million bridge for the Connecticut Department of Transportation that will carry I-95 over the West River in New Haven and West Haven, Conn. The bridge is 1,142 feet long and 92 feet wide with 12 spans. It will be widened to 142 feet to accommodate a 6-foot median, a 16-foot inside shoulder and three 12-foot lanes in each direction.

The southbound I-95 bridge to the Kimberly Ave. ramp will be demolished. A three-span I-95 bridge over Ella T. Grasso Blvd. will be replaced with a single-span bridge. The project also includes reconstructing 4,659 feet of I-95.

Required for the project is a temporary roadway ramp that will provide crossing for low-traffic industrial, commercial and residential areas where vehicular access over a pipeline is required. Temporary trestles will be built in the West River for access to pile-supported pier locations, erection of structural steel and demolition of the existing bridge.

Additionally, temporary highway construction will be necessary to accommodate traffic shifts, along with reconstructing the highway approaches and exit ramps to access Ella Grasso Blvd. and Kimberly Ave.

Also part of the project is building a new West River bridge piers and superstructure, demolishing the existing West River Bridge, replacing the I-95 Bridge over Ella T. Grasso Blvd. and constructing drainage improvements. Completion of the project is scheduled for November 2018.

Bascule Bridge

Another current project is replacing a 50-foot, single-leaf Bascule Bridge over a 30-foot-wide channel connecting the towns of Oak Bluffs and Tisbury, Mass., on Martha’s Vineyard. Called the Beach Road bridge replacement over Lagoon Pond, the project for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation was begun in August 2013 and is scheduled for completion in May 2016.

The design/bid/build construction contract is a combination of lump sum and unit price items. Seven fixed spans with a total length of 350 lineal feet are included in the project. Subcontractors and 40 Middlesex employees are working on the project, for which 12,000 cubic yards of dirt was excavated, 10,000 lineal feet of pipe pile in diameters of 12, 18 and 36 inches were driven and 8,000 cubic yards of cast-in-place concrete are being poured.

Also part of the project is 400 tons of reinforcing steel, 1,000 tons of structural steel, 500 tons of bascule counter weight and 6,000 tons of hot mix asphalt paving. Another project Skerrett mentions that was completed recently is a $150 million bus-way project in Hartford, Conn., for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. 

Safety and Quality

Safety is a No. 1 core value at The Middlesex Corp. The company has safety officers on its projects and does daily “safety huddles” and toolbox talks every Monday with a project’s entire workforce that the subcontractors also attend. “We give out quarterly safety awards to all our field team members if they’re not involved in any safety incidents,” Skerrett points out. 

The company is committed to quality. “As far as quality, our reputation speaks for itself,” Skerrett emphasizes. “The best way to approach project specifics is to do it once and do it right. We always discuss at the job meetings about never compromising a project’s integrity. I think if you look at the awards we receive and the recommendations we get, we always get high marks for completing a job on time and delivering a professional  project to the owner.”

To encourage employee innovation, The Middlesex Corp. issues what it calls core value awards. “They’re  spontaneous awards,” Skerrett explains. “If we have a team member in the field that comes up with something fairly innovative on his own, we encourage all of our line supervisors to let us know and we are happy to award a $50 or $100 gift card to say thanks.”

Recruiting Employees

Finding skilled and creative employees is becoming challenging for the construction industry as a whole. “There’s no influx of a younger group coming up,” Skerrett observes. “The aging of the workforce is becoming an issue. That’s one of our biggest challenges here in the Northeast and in the Southeast. It’s a nationwide problem.”

The company vets its employment candidates closely. “We’re very particular about who we hire,” Skerrett stresses. That is especially important when the company branches into new geographic areas, such as northern and southern Florida and the Mid-Atlantic states. “You can sink quickly if you end up with the wrong group in a new location,” Skerrett points out.

Finding quality subcontractors also is becoming more difficult. The Middlesex Corp. does reference checks and post-project evaluations of subcontractors’ performance. Price is important, but quality and schedule cannot be sacrificed. When Middlesex finds a good subcontractor, it tries to work with the company frequently.

Skerrett attributes The Middlesex Corp.’s success to superior project execution. “We put a lot of emphasis on the team member, and we hire from a personality standpoint as well as qualifications,” he says. “We try and build a team that is as cohesive as possible all the way around.” 

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