Building boom could cause delays, cost increases for new Utah State Prison

SALT LAKE CITY -- The building boom that Utah is in the middle of is creating problems for construction of the new state prison.

"When we started we thought we were right on track. But the economic environment we’re in right now has changed all that," Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, told FOX 13 on Wednesday.

Labor and materials are in short supply and it's a demanding market, so the state's $650 million prison is competing with other projects across Utah and the nation, said Marilee Richins, the deputy director of the Department of Administrative Services.

"We’re probably not going to be able to build a 4,000 bed facility in this economy," she said.

Materials and signs at the Utah State Prison site near I-80 and 7200 West in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

Sen. Stevenson said as a result, the project's costs go up or it gets delayed.

"Either way, it’s very costly for the state," he said.

The senator said he was not inclined to delay the project beyond its estimated 2020 completion date. The state has already stopped funding unnecessary repairs at the Draper prison site in anticipation of a move, he said.

"We will push forward quickly with the new prison. There are other options. You build a scaled down prison and add on to it in a short period of time after it’s built," Sen. Stevenson said.

Richins said work is already being done on the new prison site near I-80 and 7200 West. The design of the facility is already flexible to deal with population changes. She said the state has been locking in prices where it can as it moves forward with the massive project.

A map of the new Utah State Prison site in Salt Lake City.

"The message to us from the governor and the legislature is you have a budget and you stick to it. And that’s what we’re doing," she said.

Any additional funding requests for the new Utah State Prison would have to be taken up by the legislature when they meet in January.