New Jail Facility Moves Forward
The Escambia County Commission began the fiscal year with a drive to see the new jail construction project, the largest county infrastructure project in years, significantly move forward with a special meeting on Oct. 18, 2016. At this meeting, county staff and the DLR Group addressed the status of the property acquisition, design-build process and next steps moving forward. The project involves construction of a new Escambia County Correctional Facility located near the southeast corner of North Pace Boulevard and West Fairfield Drive on property the commission voted to purchase in July 2016.
On Dec. 19, 2016, Escambia County received five proposals for the design-build of the new jail. The short list of the three firms was advertised on Feb. 16, 2017. The commission heard presentations on Aug. 8, 2017 from the two shortlisted firms, and on Aug. 17 unanimously supported Whitsell-Green/Caddell to act as the design-build entity for the new correctional facility. The board also voted to authorize staff and the selected design-build entity to utilize Owner Direct Purchases. This is a method whereby the county acts as the pass-through agency for a contractor on subcontracts or other agreements to purchase material. This will allow the county to purchase items associated with this project tax-free at an estimated $2 million to $3 million in savings.
The base bid for the new 720-bed jail is $128,609,505, and it will be constructed west of the existing jail structure located along “L” Street. Additional improvements to the property include construction of stormwater management systems, utility service connections, parking areas and new driveway connections to North Pace Boulevard, West Fairfield Drive and St. Mary Avenue. The total project area is approximately 19 acres. The site layout of the new correctional facility is located west of the existing jail structure which fronts “L” Street. The new structure will connect to the existing facility by means of a new connecting corridor which runs east-west between the buildings. The layout of the new facility allows for site access from Fairfield Drive, Pace Boulevard and St. Mary Avenue. Parking for the public and staff is provided in various locations around the facility. A new loading dock area will be constructed on the east side of the new facility. Safety and security of staff and inmates were priorities in the design of the facility and guided every step of the process. The design clearly matches the operational needs.
The process was slowed by a bid protest by W.G. Yates & Sons, the firm not selected, who filed an informal and formal protest in August 2017. This pushed the process into the current 2017/18 fiscal year. The board voted on the final contract with Whitesell-Green/Caddell on Dec. 14, 2017. The notice to proceed is scheduled to be issued in January 2018. Currently, it is anticipated that the project will be complete in early spring 2020, with inmates being housed as soon as the summer of 2020.