Utah Prison Development Commission to Seek Construction Manager

SALT LAKE CITY — On Nov. 5, Utah’s Prison Development Commission adopted a recommendation that includes hiring a company to manage the construction of a new prison in Salt Lake City. Following two hours of contractor testimonies, Commission members agreed to move forward, according to Deseret News.

The 4,000-bed, $550 million facility will replace the Utah State Prison and will be a “state-of-the-art, quality correctional facility,” according to the state’s Division of Facilities Construction and Management. The prison should be complete within four years of the property acquisition. The final deal will most likely be complete in the next four months, but the commission should be able to approve the site by the end of the year, according to a statement by Senator Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton.

Commission members were initially unsure of the Division of Facilities Construction and Management’s plan to use a construction manager and general contractor. This caused a delay in September, and the commission ultimately hired two consultants to offer advice on options for project delivery.

During the Nov. 5 meeting, officials representing Utah-based construction companies shared opinions and insight, though it was made clear to all that participation did not automatically equal consideration. “What goes on here today will not have any impact on who is chosen,” Stevenson said during the meeting.

“It’s going to take the leadership of a strong contractor team,” said Troy Thompson, executive vice president of Utah-based Okland Construction, as reported by Deseret News. “One of the biggest risks on this project is the site condition.”

Thompson emphasized the time and effort that will be necessary to prepare the site for construction. The site includes several wetlands that will take at least 8 million tons of fill material to mitigate. If the selected construction team used the division-recommended process, they would be able to start moving material at the start of construction. However, currently only 2 million tons of fill are readily available.

Another risk Thompson mentioned was the ability to acquire workers. The construction market is escalating in Utah and surrounding states and labor rates have skyrocketed, which will make finding workers difficult.

Jim Russell, the division’s construction program manager, announced that he has started developing a request for bids for a project management firm that should be issued within a month.