County supervisors expressed some surprise and dismay at the late timing of bidding on the new jail, but plans remain on track for construction next spring.

John Hansen of Midwest Construction Consultants provided a jail project update to the Jackson County Board of Supervisors last week. During his presentation, Hansen described plans for accepting bids on the project. Those plans included obtaining the final drawings by Nov. 16, accepting bids until mid-December, and awarding a contract by Dec. 21.

Supervisors Larry McDevitt, Mike Steines and Jack Willey appeared a bit confused and concerned while listening to Hansen’s jail update. They believed the project was going out to bid by the end of this month or early November, the supervisors told Hansen.

“Why are we not going out (to bid) at the beginning of November?” Steines asked.

Part of the delay stemmed from unexpected glitches with a mechanical variance through the city. That cost the project three to four weeks, Hansen explained.

If final jail drawings are ready earlier, the county can go to bid earlier, he said.

“The sooner the better,” Willey said.

“I don’t know. (Material) prices haven’t come down yet,” Hansen said with a chuckle.

Hansen last August had advised the supervisors to wait until November to send the project out to bid in hopes that the cost of construction materials decreases.

Based on current market conditions, construction costs spiked upward to about $6.87 million “on the high end,” Hansen said. This is more than $600,000 above the cost estimate before the election.

The increased demand for construction materials such as steel — as well as setbacks in the supply chain caused by the coronavirus pandemic — are to blame, Hansen told the supervisors then.

“We have to move forward either way,” Willey told Hansen last week.

The new jail will be built on property the county built at the corner of East Maple Street and Jacobsen Drive in Maquoketa. The facility will have 30 beds with room for future expansion as well as at least eight inmate separation classifications as set forth by federal law (the current jail is rated to hold 11 inmates with basically no classifications). It also will include some office space, a training/multipurpose space, and more.

The supervisors asked Hansen to stake out the corners of the building and as well as a storage shed that will be built there. That was expected to happen Monday or Tuesday.

After the council approves the final plans and specs for the new jail, the project will go to bid. Contractors can bid on any of six packages: general construction, plumbing, HVAC, security electronics and detention equipment, electrical, and fire/sprinkler.

The supervisors will review the bids and award a contract, likely this December.

Construction is expected to begin in spring 2022.

New jail construction will be linked somewhat with the Together We Build project, said Hansen, who also is consulting on that project.

Together We Build is a partnership between the Jackson County Iowa State University Extension Office and the Jackson County Fair to build a new, almost 13,000-square-foot ag learning hub near the horse arena on the fairgrounds. The facility will house the Jackson County Fair/ISU Extension Offices, a conference room, a certified commercial kitchen, and a 300-person, state-of-the-art conference/education space.

Construction plans for the estimated $2.8 million Together We Build project have been delayed as the entities raised funds for its construction. However, Hansen told the supervisors that building likely will be constructed within a couple weeks of the jail.

Bidding open for

storage shed

Meanwhile, the county now is accepting public bids to build a 40-by-60-foot storage shed on the new county jail property.

The bid specs include a 40-by-60-foot shed, a large alternate 48-by-72-foot shed, and concrete work. Contractors are allowed to submit bids for both the shed construction and concrete work if they so desire.

Bids are due to the Jackson County Auditor’s Office by 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21. The supervisors will open the bids during a special meeting after that deadline and likely will award a contract during their next regular meeting Oct. 26.