Construction is underway at the site of the new expanded women’s jail, a project more than a decade in the making to ease overcrowding at the current facility.
The new 46,000-square-foot jail will include a 38,000-square-foot housing unit with 198 beds and space to provide counseling and other programs. Approximately 8,000 square feet will be dedicated to a medical facility to serve both the women’s jail and the neighboring men’s jail.
The project also includes a new security system for the entire jail complex, located on Kansas Avenue just south of Highway 1 near Cuesta College.
The new expanded jail is scheduled to be completed in October 2016.
The first phase, which began in February, entails drilling to install 180 reinforced steel caissons —built on site — to support the foundation of the new facility. The project is running slightly behind schedule because of a backup in the coordination of deliveries of concrete and other materials in the relatively small space, as well as the amount of drilling required, said correctional Deputy Tim Meinhold.
“The drilling is really the variable at this point,” Meinhold said.
Following a 1999 grand jury report that highlighted problems due to overcrowding at the current facility, county planners initially took on the project anticipating the county would have to pay for it.
But a year after design work began in 2006, the state made funding available to local governments to expand jail facilities. In 2008, San Luis Obispo County received about $25 million, or 75 percent of the total cost of the expansion. The county is using reserve funds and approximately $700,000 from the general fund for its share of the cost.
El Dorado Hills-based firm Roebbelen Contracting, Inc. is performing the construction work, while four other companies provide administration, engineering, architecture, inspection and commissioning services.
The construction is being aided by the California National Guard, which owns the land surrounding the Sheriff’s Office and has loaned a small amount of land to allow workers more space to truck in concrete and equipment.
The Sheriff’s Office has also rigged the construction site with two time-lapse cameras to capture each stage of the project. Once completed, footage will be posted on the agency’s website.