Franklin County Awards Contract for New Jail

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Franklin County Commissioners awarded a $9 million construction-management contract for the $135 million construction of a new Franklin County jail in Columbus. The contract was awarded on Feb. 2 to a joint venture between the local offices of Gilbane Building Company and Smoot Construction. DLZ, with local offices in Columbus as well, was awarded an $11.9 million architecture contract back in October to design the facility.

The new jail will house about 2,800 inmates when it’s completed, reported The Columbus Dispatch. The first phase is expected to open in June 2019 with about 800 beds and will replace the 640-bed downtown jail on South Front Street. Currently, the county has two jails — one on Jackson Pike and the one downtown — that can house 2,300 inmates between the two.

The new jail will be designed so that the Franklin County sheriff’s office can change the way it manages inmates, Chief Deputy Geoff Stobart told The Columbus Dispatch. The current jail places deputies at posts that are separate from the cells and inmates, which requires deputies to make rounds to see what’s happening in the cells. The new jail, however, will allow for deputies to supervise inmates at all times, which should help prevent fighting and vandalism.

The first phase of the new jail will take up about 345,000 square feet. It will feature special housing for inmates with mental health or behavioral problems, a medical clinic and a 300-person orientation unit.

The county is funding the project with a temporary increase to sales tax, which will raise about $150 million by the time it expires at the end of 2018, according to The Columbus Dispatch. Dates for construction and opening of later phases have yet to be set.