Smith Co. Jail project: Behind schedule, but under budget - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Smith Co. Jail project: Behind schedule, but under budget


The $35 million Smith County jail project is still not complete, but despite being months behind schedule, the commissioner's court says the project is staying within budget.

It may seem like progress has been slow. After all, Smith County broke ground on the downtown jail expansion in April of 2012.

"The exterior skeleton is almost complete," says Smith County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Warr.

Construction has been a long and loud process, but John O'Sullivan, who lives downtown, has gotten used to it.

"It hadn't been too bad until the last few months as they're making these big concrete pours," explains O'Sullivan.

Despite that, he says the clanging and banging hasn't been too bothersome.

"That's just part of construction and it happens during day hours," O'Sullivan says.

Some parts of the downtown jail project, like the kitchen and attorney visitation areas, are nearly complete. Commissioners say the sheriff's office could be using those areas by the end of this month. As far as the rest of the project goes, in about four weeks we can expect to see bricks going up on the side of the building, making it look less like a construction project and more like a new jail.

"At least by September or so they'll probably be completely finished," explains Commissioner Warr.

Warr says security changes like ordering more maximum security cells and adding more pistol lockers are some of the small additions that have set the schedule back.

"We've got more time than we have money, so we're willing to take a little bit longer to make sure that we stay within budget," he explains.

Warr says the building will be more pleasing to the eye than you might think.

"It's going to be a very attractive building. A lot of people won't know it's a jail. It won't look like a jail from the exterior and we're really pleased. When the bricks start going up, we think people will really like it," says Warr.

All of the cells in the downtown jail will be equipped for maximum security inmates. That's a change that wasn't in the original plan, but has been made along the way. Right now, the jail hold 755 inmates. When it's complete, it will hold 384 more inmates.

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