Construction company warns of escalating price of Dane Co. prison project proposal in 2023

MADISON, Wis. – An internal memo from the Department of Administration to the Dane County Board of Supervisors says construction costs for the Dane County Jail Consolidation Project could rise further under a proposal unveiled earlier this month.

RELATED: Dane County Black Caucus Board of Supervisors Unveils New Plan for Jail Consolidation Project

Officials from the construction company used by the county told the county’s public works department to expect estimates of a 6-8% increase and a ten-month delay if the county adopts a plan presented by the Black Caucus to reduce the project to five floors and remove medical and mental health beds.

The note to supervisors says the company, Gilbane, estimates a 10-month delay could cause the cost of the project to increase by 6-8% in 2023, potentially adding $6.6-9.2 million to project costs. construction totals. These estimates could go up or down depending on the economy next year.

“This increase is related to the continued escalation in the construction industry at an unprecedented rate,” a representative for Gilbane noted in an email to the public works department.

“We really have to lock ourselves into a design and stick to it,” public works director Todd Draper told News 3 Now. “Once we figure out what it is, we really need to move forward without any further delays or redesigns. It needs to move fast. Construction is currently very volatile and it is very difficult to get those numbers and have entrepreneurs keep those numbers for a long time.

Here is an overview of the project’s history and current status.

2016: A report recommended that the Dane County Jail be closed and residents moved to an updated facility with “hasty” due to poor conditions in the jail.

2017: Dane County Council has approved a plan to add four stories to the current city-county jail building for $75 million

2019: Due to structural issues, the council scrapped plans for a new seven-story tower that would cost $148 million. Soaring construction costs have inflated the original plan to $190 million so far.

March 2022: With the incarceration plan going over budget, the council reached a compromise earlier this year. In March, the board approved a new plan that cut one floor and nearly $30 million from the 2019 plan. That plan for a six-story tower was originally $166 million. but due to delays and rising construction costs, it now sits at $175 million.

Dane County Director of Public Works Todd Draper said the design plans for construction of this facility are 95 percent complete. A referendum is needed to secure the additional $10 million needed to push the plan forward; the county council is expected to approve the referendum soon in order to get it on the ballot in November and avoid further delays.

August 2022: In early August, the Dane County Black Caucus Board of Oversight unveiled a new plan that would remove another floor of the tower and remove acute medical beds to keep the plan within the current $166 million budget.

However, the internal memo obtained by News 3 Now shows county officials estimate that plan would cause a 10-month delay due to architects taking several steps backwards in the design plans for what would now be a five-storey tower.

The Black Caucus plan will be presented to the full board for a vote on Thursday; last week, the county’s public works and transportation committee recommended it for rejection.

Richard L. Militello