Last updated: May 31. 2013 8:42PM - 200 Views
Lindsay Craven
Staff Writer

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The construction of the jail addition has been a much talked about topic over the years in Yadkinville.

While many are happy with the start of construction, a few residents have questions about the way that the construction is being done.

The Yadkin Ripple sat down with J. Barry Hennings, Yadkin County’s project manager for the jail, and County Manager Aaron Church to address some of the questions that have been floating around town.

Why didn’t the county include a basement in the design of the jail?

Barry Hennings: A basement would require us to look at two options. One would be adding additional space. That is a pretty large space; it’s about 10,000 square feet. The cost would probably be in the neighborhood of $800,000 to $1 million to add basement space.

There was also the question of if we can build two stories on top, (or) why can’t we build two stories down. The desire was to have the new jail at the same elevation as the existing jail and there’s a connecting corridor that will tie the two facilities together so prisoners can be transferred back and forth in a secure area. If you ended up trying to lower that down then you’d have two different levels that you’re dealing with. There would additional stairways and an additional elevator and those would also come at additional costs.

Why did the county bring in dirt just to dig it back out when construction started?

B.H.: That’s because of the nature of the soil that’s there. There’s been testing done by an independent engineering firm that came in and looked at the existing material that was on that site and it was a compressible material, meaning once it has a load such as a building placed on it then it compresses and shrinks. With building construction you cannot tolerate a lot of settlement otherwise you’ll get cracks in the walls and cracks in the foundation.

The recommendation that came through the testing company was to contract that out early and bring in the dirt and basically pre-load the site so that you build up the weight on the site and allow the dirt to sit there and compress the soil while we were waiting to do the design of the jail and the bidding and awarding the contract. That’s what they opted to do.

Aaron Church: Had we not done what we did to prepare the soil there would have been at least a six month delay on construction. They would still be dealing with the dirt right now if we hadn’t used that process.

Had we gone ahead and went out to bid in the beginning then the magnitude of the change orders would have increased, which means that you get into the jail and then the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services starts moving walls or other things of that nature. And that gives the contractor the opportunity to change the scope of the project after it’s been bid. The best thing for the tax payer was probably doing it in two phases. That way we had it all approved by DHHS and insurance before we went out to bid.

What was the county’s other option?

B.H.: The other option was to spend the money to dig out the existing material and replace it with better material. That’s an expensive proposition. It was better to go ahead and put the fill material because we would have to have it on site later anyways. If the county had gone with the other process we wouldn’t have known the extent of the project until we started the process and there could have been several thousands of dollars spent on taking material out and putting in good material. At least with this method we had a quantified cost and it wouldn’t have been open to undercutting and not knowing what the total cost would be.

Where is the dirt being moved to?

B.H.: Now the contractor is removing the dirt, building the walls and putting the dirt in behind the retaining walls as they are built.

A.C.: The dirt that has been moved off site has been taken to the county park. It’s to build up a walking pad so people don’t walk in the middle of the road on the way to the ball fields at the park. We don’t have enough dirt to finish it and we’ll have to get some more to finish it.

What phase is the jail construction in right now?

B.H.: The contractor is working according to the schedule. They are going to continue to work on the large foundation walls and they are getting ready to turn the corner and go in behind the sheriff’s office and tie into the existing jail. That’s what they’ll continue to do for the next four to six weeks.

As they build the walls then they’ll continue to go back and backfill the walls. You probably won’t see any signs of masonry going up for another month to two months. After that you’ll begin seeing masonry walls going up and then they’ll erect the walls after that. They’ll come back and do the brick veneer after the masonry walls are up.

Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at lcraven@heartlandpublications.com.

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