Franklin County soon will break ground on its jail remodel and expansion, but county officials are opting out of the pomp and circumstance of a ground-breaking ceremony.
Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved documents that authorize contractor Lydig Construction of Spokane to start work on the project on March 4, which will mean drivers accustomed to using Fifth Avenue between Henry and Octave streets will have to find another route for the next year while the street is closed.
Construction is set to finish in March 2014.
Commissioner Bob Koch on Wednesday noted that the expansion has been a long time coming.
"It has been an accumulation of years," he said. "My first year in this chair is when we put it to a vote."
Voters said no to a sales tax increase for jail construction a few times, until a ballot measure calling for a 30-year, 0.3 percent sales tax increase finally passed in 2011.
An $18 million contract was awarded to Lydig -- the lowest of five bidders -- in January. The documents signed Wednesday were a formality to allow construction to start, said Larry Hueter, project manager for the expansion.
The expansion involves construction of six 32-bed cell blocks and a two-story building that will house the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, dispatch center, information services and Pasco Municipal Court. Pasco is paying the cost of building the court space and is sharing in construction costs for areas shared with the county.
The old jail is planned to be renovated as a maximum security facility.
Also Wednesday, commissioners:
w Approved agreements to allow construction of a replacement bridge on Road 170.
w Opened a sole bid from the Franklin County Graphic for a contract to publish the county's legal notices. The newspaper offered to print the notices for $9 per column inch in six-point type. The contract will be awarded April 3.