Soft Soil Forces Crook County to Change Design to One Story

PRINEVILLE, Ore. — Plans for the new Crook County jail already hit a snafu when a geological study showed that there was softer-than-expected soil found at the job site in downtown Prineville. The result: Engineers must redesign the foundation and shift the construction designs from two stories to one story.

The study conducted earlier this year found that the ground the jail was to be constructed on was a mixture of sand and sediment, much softer than the large rock and sediment mixtures typically found that harden the ground enough to withstand the weight of a large building. To create a firmer foundation, the ground needs to be reinforced with geopiers (or drilled holes in the ground filled with concrete), reported The Bulletin. While the project could cost between $400,000 and $500,000, the Crook County Sheriff’s Office plans to seek out ways to pay for the fix and still remain under the $17 million budget.

A major source of those cost savings involves changing the roof height from 23 feet to 17 feet, creating a one-story housing unit even though the control room in the center of the jail will remain two stories high, according to The Bulletin. The jail will still include the original 76 beds, and that number could increase to 90 if double bunks are used instead of single ones.

The new facility will increase the current jail’s capacity four-fold, as it currently only houses 16 beds. The rest of the county’s about 25 inmates are sent to the Jefferson County jail, located 30 miles away. However, an average of 103 people per month were sentenced to jail time in Crook County between 2014 and 2015, according to a 2016 report from Crook County’s Public Safety Advisory Committee. In any given month, the lack of space at the county jail can mean that 70 to 90 people who are convicted of misdemeanors receive early release or completely avoid incarceration altogether

Construction on the facility is expected to begin in August or September with completion still on track for December 2018.