San Luis Obispo County officials gathered at the site of the new expanded women’s jail Friday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony, kicking off a $40 million construction project more than eight years in the making.
Since a grand jury report highlighted overcrowding at the county’s current facility in 1999, the county has been weighing different options to deal with the problem. Planners initially took on the project anticipating the county would have to pay for it.
A year after design work began in 2006, the state passed the Public Safety and Offender Rehabilitation Act, which made state funding available to local governments to expand jail facilities and combat overcrowding. San Luis Obispo County received the funding, about $25 million, or 75 percent of the total cost of the expansion, in 2008.
The county’s portion of funding will come from reserve funds as well as approximately $700,000 from the general fund.
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The new 46,000-square-foot jail will include a 38,000-square-foot housing unit with 198 beds plus space to provide counseling and other programs. Approximately 8,000 square feet will be dedicated to a medical facility to serve both women and men housed at the nearby men’s jail.
The project also includes a new security system for the entire jail complex.
The county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved contracts for the work in December, although officials noted their disappointment that the contracts ran over the projected cost estimate by nearly $2 million.
El Dorado Hills-based firm Roebbelen Contracting, Inc. will perform the construction work. Four other companies will provide administration, engineering, architecture, inspection and commissioning services.
The expanded facility is scheduled to be completed in October 2016.