Bids for Hamblen County jail construction open today

Construction bids will be opened today for the Hamblen County Justice Center/Jail project at 3 p.m. at the Hamblen County Courthouse.

The project was originally bid out in April, but bids came around $20 million higher than expected and the County Commission voted to re-bid the project in an attempt to lower the cost of the project through value engineering adjustments, increased competition and decreased supply pressures.

Tony Pettit, manager with BurWil Construction, has worked with contractors to make some design changes to lower the cost of the project.

One additional company was pre-approved to submit a bid this time.

Pettit said steel prices, a driving factor in construction costs for the project, were up 34% in May over April (after the initial bids were rejected), but have stabilized.

The prices have not come down from highs that reflect a supply shortage that he described as “horrendous.”

Continuing coverage will be available with video and stories posted Thursday after the opening of bids and a full story on Friday on