Bids opened for Hamblen County Justice Center

Bids for the Jail Project are opened and presented remotely for a public viewing in the Hamblen County Courthouse on Thursday. 

Contractors submitted their bids to build the Hamblen County Justice Center/Jail Project and Blaine Construction Corporation out of Knoxville submitted the low, base bid of $86,692,750 for the project.

That figure does not include finishing out the third story of jail, which would bring the total cost to $92.2 million dollars.

“We’re just disappointed that it’s up 4.8% from April,” Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said, “We thought the design changes we made would reduce the cost. The goal of the redesign was to save money, but the in the last six months the inflation in the construction market has been historical, unprecedented. So we went into the process hoping the design process would keep us at the same cost as April.”

Tony Pettit, project manager with BurWil Construction, said at last week’s Commission committees meeting that the cost of steel had gone up 35% just from April to May.

“We need to make a list, of the pros and cons of delaying or moving forward,” Brittain said. “We need to evaluate those options and make a decision.”

Brittain said he did not see any pros in delaying the project, but that the project could be redesigned and the scope scaled down for a building that would not be able to serve the county for the next 50 years.

“The cons are there is a natural inflation factor in construction, so costs will go up,” he said. “By delaying, it wouldn’t necessarily decrease the cost of the project, unless we reduce the scope.”

Brittain said the scope of the project should not be reduced because the goal is to have a building that will last a long time.

“If you want to achieve a 40 to 50 year fix, then, no, we don’t reduce the scope,” he said.

He said two studies were commissioned that both forecasted a need for 620 beds by 2035 or 2040.

Commissioner Randy DeBord, chairman of the Finance Committee said delaying the project cost taxpayers money and he did not see costs coming down in the future.

“Every time we procrastinate and do nothing, it winds up costing the citizens more,” he said. “So I think we need to go ahead and finish the project before costs go up even more.”

Blaine Construction Corporation has extensive experience constructing large projects including an office for Discovery/Scripps Networks with parking garage, the UTC Aquatic and Recreation Center, improvements to Neyland Stadium, Cirrus Aircraft Training Center and more.

The bids will be discussed and Moseley Architects will make a presentation at the next Hamblen County Commission meeting on October 21 at 5 p.m.

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