Wayne County Jail records show $1.6 million in increases on construction costs

County officials still investigating millions more

(WXYZ) DETROIT - The 7 Action News Investigators have obtained several records that detail some increases in spending on the over-budget Wayne County Jail project.  The Change Orders show an increase in $1.6 million for services ranging from asbestos abatement to water main replacements.  While the $1.6 million seems significant, that figure pales in comparison to the approximately $47 million in projected jail hard construction costs that exceed the original budget.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's administration stopped construction on the Jail in June after learning the project was drastically more expensive than the original $300 million planned facility.

County officials are investigating a projected $91 Million cost over-run.

The 7 Action News Investigators made a public records request for the Change Orders.  The largest contract amount change came from Blaze Contracting Inc.  On August 8, 2011, the company documented extra work that was done to remove hazardous soil, concrete, bricks and other objects from the jail site in downtown Detroit.  The extra work on that Change Order totaled $1,295,777.74.

The other change orders for increased contact amounts came from ATC Associates for asbestos abatement; Blaze Contracting for water main replacements and additional remediation work on Mullett Street; and Soils and Materials Engineers for additional days of geotechnical monitoring.  Those companies are all subcontractors to Walbridge-dck, which is managing the jail project.

Several companies also had change orders that decreased their contract amounts.  Those decreases totaled $83,853.01.

All of the change orders that we obtained were approved by the Wayne County Building Authority.  Building authority members Nate Ford and Eileen DeHart signed them after a vote by the board.  Wayne County CFO Carla Sledge signed a Walbridge change order.

The Wayne County Commission's Auditor General is investigating the cost over-runs and has said he's looking into the possibility that a budget may not have been established. The county has also hired an independent investigator to audit the project.  August 6 will mark the end of the 60-day work stoppage.

County officials say they have accepted five bids from private developers for alternative plans for the site.  No decisions have formally announced about whether construction will continue.

If you have a story tip for Heather Catallo please email her: hcatallo@wxyz.com or call 248-827-4473.

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