Construction Breaks Ground on Rowan County Jail

MOREHEAD, Ky. — Rowan County broke ground on a new $20.7 million detention center on July 18, about two years after the Kentucky Department of Corrections (DOC) authorized the county to move forward with the building project.

The about 300-bed jail is being built on the former Eastern Kentucky Tobacco Warehouses site, reported The Morehead News. Frankfort, Ky.-based DLZ is serving as the architect on the project, while Vanceburg, Ky.-based Trace Creek Construction is serving as the construction manager.

DLZ presented a design scheme last year for a 292-bed jail; however, the current bed count for the jail is 270. A new law made by the DOC earlier this year required the project team to make changes to the design late in the game. The law states that isolation rooms cannot have double bunks, but a “boat” (or sleeping pad) can be placed on the floor to allow for someone else to sleep in the cell. The 270 number is based on 20 isolation rooms, but the ability to use boats allows the jail to hold between 310 and 340 inmates, Eddie Sorrell, project manager for Trace Creek Construction, told The Morehead News in June.

Regardless of the exact bed count, the jail will significantly help the county with overcrowding issues and will be about four times larger than the existing, 78-bed jail. On average, the current jail holds about 140 inmates, and it is starting to deteriorate. Not building a jail was never an option, according to studies that showed it would cost more to transfer inmates to other jails than it would cost to build a new one.

Construction is scheduled to take approximately 18 months.