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One of three main contractors that built the National Security Agency's massive Bluffdale complex is likely to play a key role managing the new Utah State Prison project.
The Division of Facilities Construction and Management has entered into negotiations with Big D Construction, which is working jointly with Kitchell, based in Arizona, to serve as the project's management and technical consultant.
Big D and Kitchell, which will call their joint venture BDK, will review designs, track cost estimates, evaluate bids and manage the construction of the estimated $550 million prison project west of the Salt Lake City International Airport.
"They'll be an extension of our staff," said Jim Russell, assistant division director. BDK beat out two other companies under the regular bidding process. The state liked Big D's local presence and Kitchell's experience building prisons.
The first step going forward will be hiring an architect and construction manager by April. Gov. Gary Herbert then needs to pick one of two sites. One is near an old landfill that may contain hazardous waste, which is a cause for concern. The other is closer to the Great Salt Lake. State experts are creating a cost analysis, and Herbert is expected to tour each plot. It appears that state leaders are leaning toward the land near the lake, because it avoids the landfill and brings utilities farther along land that is now undeveloped, though wetland studies are still underway.
The state plans to create an outreach committee that will include members from some community groups such as duck hunters and environmentalists concerned about the land near the lake. Russell said his goal is to meet regularly and "keep them happy."
The division released a proposed schedule Wednesday, expecting to purchase the land by midyear followed by utility and road construction to begin by June. Crews would start building the core of a prison inmate housing in fall 2018.
The overall complex is expected to take nearly five years to complete, wrapping up in July 2020. This new, detailed estimate is about half a year longer than DFCM previously told the Prison Development Commission.
Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, the commission's co-chairman, encouraged the state to try to speed up that time frame, largely because the current prison in Draper is aging and the Legislature doesn't want to spend money to maintain it.
"That facility is bad," Wilson said, "and getting worse every day."
Russell said the timeline is a "reasonable" guess at how long it will take, though there may be ways to shave off some time.
Herbert and the Legislature signed off last fall on moving the prison from Draper to Salt Lake City. When the 2016 legislative session begins in the next few weeks, lawmakers are expected to set up a process to determine the best way to transition the old prison site to a high-tech park.