- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Now that Utah lawmakers have selected a site for the new state prison, they’re antsy to get more specific so they can start sending truckloads of dirt to the land west of Salt Lake City International Airport.

“It is a time-consuming, significant part of the job,” explained Division of Facilities Construction and Management’s project overseer Jim Russell. He plans to contract with a crew to build a temporary road so the state can haul as many truckloads of dirt to the location as possible.

The land there is soft and wet, so officials say adding an estimated 1.3 million cubic yards of dirt will help keep the prison complex from sinking, reported The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1MMHDtI ).

Lawmakers are nudging Russell to hire a project consultant get started early.

“Every day we are not hauling dirt is money, and we don’t want to waste any dollars,” said Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, who co-chairs the Prison Development Commission.

But there’s not much Russell can do until the state actually owns the land for the 4,000-bed prison. The division is still eying two sites, one closer to the Great Salt Lake and another about halfway between the lake and the airport.

Russell told lawmakers that he hopes to buy the land in early 2016 and will present the costs, benefits and obstacles of each site at an upcoming meeting. The commission recommended that the prison be completed about four years after the land purchase.

The commission said it will make the bidding process for construction work transparent by publicly disclosing bids for each part of the project.

A new prison can’t come soon enough, according to Department of Corrections and commission member Rollin Cook, but he wants officials to take enough time to make sure it’s done well.

“We want to have a say in the final product because something that sometimes gets forgotten is safety and security,” he said.

Cook wants his staff to be able to add new treatment programs and classes for inmates, women-only areas and safety features. He also plans to ask the Legislature to fund a “transition team” that would consult with the construction manager and allow staff members to travel to other states and check out prisons there.

Commission members also said they want to solicit advice from outside groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Disability Law Center.

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com


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