SNOW HILL – A $3.5 million Worcester County Jail improvement project is expected to proceed following approval this week.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners approved a bid from Bancroft Construction Company for the first part of a phased improvement plan for the jail, which was last upgraded in 2008. Bancroft Construction will be tasked with improving the jail’s kitchen, ventilating its gym and replacing a variety of HVAC equipment, among other things.
Though there were concerns about the price, which exceeded what the county had budgeted for the project, the commissioners agreed to move forward.
“We don’t believe the price is going to decrease unless we chop the scope or do something drastically different,” said Bill Bradshaw, county engineer.
According to Bradshaw, the county hired Gipe Engineering in 2017 to review recent equipment failures and to recommend a plan to mitigate future failures at the jail.
“The result is a phased improvement plan,” Bradshaw wrote in a report to the commissioners. “Phase 1 is designed to replaced failed equipment, upgrade critical systems, provide redundancy in water heating and provide improved work areas for staff. The Phase 1 recommendation follows the building philosophy of heating, ventilating and cooling work and common areas.”
The county budgeted $2.7 million for the work. Bradshaw said Tuesday the county received three bids for the project and they all exceeded the budgeted amount.
“We believe local pricing trends have generally been increasing,” he said.
Chief Administrative Officer Harold Higgins said the county could reallocate funds within the budget to cover the cost of the project.
Commissioner Chip Bertino asked if there was the possibility that change orders would impact the final price of the project.
“I think there’s always a risk of that, especially in old facilities,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw recommended approval of the lowest bid received, which was from Bancroft Construction. The bid of $2.97 million, paired with associated construction costs (professional services, engineering, fencing, etc.) brings the estimated total project price to $3,495,820. Bradshaw said construction would take 200 days.
The commissioners voted unanimously to have Bancroft Construction proceed with the project.