Franklin County jail remodeling on schedule

The construction project for the Franklin County jail remodel and expansion is proceeding on schedule, officials said.

This week, crews began erecting 49 pre-cast panels, each weighing 30,000 pounds, around the new jail area near the Franklin County Courthouse along Fifth Avenue in Pasco. Each is 29 feet high by nine feet wide.

The panels feature brick patterns to match the courthouse and the existing jail.

Part of Fifth Avenue is blocked off between Henry and Octave streets. Construction began in March and is expected to wrap up in February or March of next year, said project manager Larry Hueter.

The project, which also includes a new municipal court for the city of Pasco, will add 57,000 square feet of space, Hueter said. A total of 192 beds will be added, along with 16 new beds in the medical area.

Once the new jail is complete, work will begin on remodeling the adjacent existing jail, which has 154 beds. Hueter said that should take until November 2014.

"They're gonna clean up the cells, put new doors on 'em," Hueter said.

Once complete, the entire facility will be maximum security, with the exception of some women's cells, he said.

The new municipal court building will include two courtrooms, as well as space for the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, dispatch center and information services.

The combined facility will be know as the Franklin County Justice Center, Hueter said.

"It kind of gives it a broad context," he said.

The county is responsible for paying $16 million of the cost, while the city must pay $3.5 million. Voters approved a 30-year, 0.3 percent sales tax increase in 2011.

Franklin County Commission Chairman Rick Miller says that his board has had to have a few closed-session discussions with Hueter about some unplanned tasks that came up during construction. But that isn't a surprise during a major project.

"There's always a little something we come across," Miller said. "We fix it and move on."

Hueter said there haven't been any major hiccups during construction.

"I believe our schedule will be met, and the taxpayers can feel that they'll have a new facility ready when planned," he said.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom