Conn. blocks public health lab

The Connecticut State Bond Commission has blocked Governor M. Jodi Rell's plan for a new $70 million public health laboratory in Rocky Hill, which would allow for testing of anthrax and various other biothreats.

Democrats had complained that time had not been given to analyze the state-of-the-art facility that was to be built in a populated area of Rocky Hill.  Some have argued that the lab's location is too close to residents.

The lab was expected to replace a current lab located at 10 Clinton Street in downtown Hartford. The existing lab is located within walking distance of the state Capitol. The current lab is said to be in an antiquated state, with deficient plumbing, heating and air conditioning.

Rell announced less than two weeks ago that the Bond Commission was expected to approve the lab, which state officials expected could be built for $12 million less than expected.

The $12 million in savings will be placed at risk by delaying a decision on the lab. The delay follows a motion to table the matter by the Bond Commission that failed on a five to five tie. Two bonding votes for the project also failed on five to five votes.

Following the commission's meeting, Rell expressed disappointment, noting that the project has been worked on for five years.

Questions have arisen as to whether or not the reason for the vote failures is tied to a union dispute over if union workers would be used to build the new lab. Democratic legislators brought a union representative to the bond meeting, prompting the questions.