Warren County jail costs increase as project moves forward

Warren County commissioners rejected the idea of building a roundabout at a key intersection in the government complex in Lebanon, but otherwise sent consultants back to work on final drawings for a new county jail and sheriff’s office.

“It’s been more than 15 years coming,” Commissioner Dave Young said after the meeting.

During a work session Tuesday, Young and Commissioner Tom Grossmann rejected a proposed roundabout, estimated to tack on $850,000 to $1.2 million to the project.

MORE: Warren County to begin $4.2M juvenile-probate expansion

Without the roundabout, Jason Woehrle of Granger Construction advised them the overall project cost was up to almost $57.6 million.

Evans Nwankwo, president and CEO of the project’s area construction firm, Megen Encore Construction, told the commissioners the final cost projection could be higher, as the construction-materials market is expected to pass on the costs of tariffs levied as part of an international trade war.

MORE: Who’s in the Warren County Jail

The new facilities, including 460 cells, should be finished by the summer of 2021.

Commissioner Shannon Jones was absent as Grossmann and Young sent Woehrle, Nwankwo, architect Gary McAnally and a committee of county employees back to work after a review of schematic drawings and current cost projections.

The stretch of Justice Drive through the project area will be shifted west at an estimated cost of about $1 million. The new jail will be built between the building housing prosecutors and the board of elections and the Donovan Elementary School building.

RELATED: Jail cell doors on after near riot in Warren County 

Administrator Tiffany Zindel said a roundabout could still be added later if traffic patterns indicated it was needed.

The standard intersection will allow the county to keep Justice Drive open during construction.

Trees buffering the school site will remain, McAnally said during his presentation.

Lebanon City Schools Superintendent Todd Yohey said the district was satisfied with the current jail design.

The architect showed how the building location was moved west 60 feet in the latest design and the road’s path tweaked to accommodate the school.

RELATED: Warren County moves forward with $57 million jail construction

“It also allows the sheriff’s office, when they need to get somewhere in a hurry, they can just quickly go out in this direction,” he said.

The added project cost was tied in part to a larger kitchen area included in anticipation of future expansion of the jail, McAnally said.

Most of the building housing the existing jail, sheriff’s office, as well as the county courts, is to remain.

The consultants are expected to be back on Feb. 5 with design drawings. If all goes as planned, construction — expected to take 22 months — would begin on July 9, Woehrle said.

RELATED: Warren County raises sales tax to pay for new jail, sheriff’s office

The county plans to pay for the bulk of the project with a 0.25 percent increase in sales tax for five years — expected to raise at least $50 million — and with funds set aside for the project.

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