CONSTRUCTION ESTIMATING NEWS (update by every month)
Cost estimates to expand Cumberland County Detention Center drop
The estimated cost to expand the Cumberland County Detention Center has dropped again, almost to the $15 million ceiling county commissioners set last year.
Further tweaks to the design have cut the projected cost of expanding the overcrowded jail on Gillespie Street by a little more than $390,000, to $15.1 million.
"We feel we're close to meeting the expectations set for this project," County Engineer Bob Stanger said.
The expansion will add 316 beds to the jail, which was built for 568 inmates but regularly holds more than 600.
The cuts were made after commissioners heard estimates of $18 million in January and applied the brakes. That already had resulted in changes to the plans that brought the cost down to $15.4 million.
The latest changes mostly involve planning a separate mechanical plant for the new construction rather than connecting to and upgrading the existing one.
Another proposed cut involved eliminating glass walls in the day rooms of the maximum security unit. That would have brought the total cost to just less than $15 million, but Stanger said the walls were returned to that design over safety concerns among jail staff.
"They feel very strongly that we need to be able to isolate the day rooms as opposed to having open areas where you get a lot of cross talking between inmates and that sort of thing," he said.
For now, all figures remain best guesses.
"Until we take competitive bids," Stanger said, "these are our best estimates."
The county plans to pay for the expansion by using reserves and allocating additional funds each year, without borrowing any money.
Construction is expected to start in June and take about 13 months.
"We're 60 days out," Commissioner Jimmy Keefe said, "from really turning some dirt."