Wayne County Building Authority cancels construction contract for controversial Wayne County jail

(WXYZ) - The Wayne County Building Authority cancelled the construction contract for the controversial jail this morning, officially bringing the project to an end. 

The Building Authority's outside counsel said Walbridge-dck is not expected to fight the termination of their construction contract. 

A new financial review of the jail project shows $42 million in budgeted changes to the plans that were never approved by the county.  Those changes to the scope of the project were made by Program Manager AECOM, but never authorized by county officials or the Building Authority.  It's not clear how much, if any, of the $42 million in projected overruns was actually spent.  Building Authority members say it's too soon to tell if the county will sue AECOM.

CEO Robert Ficano's Chief of Staff, June Lee, presented the various options for jail project to the Building Authority.  Construction was paused in June after Ficano revealed the jail was projected to be $91 million over its $300 million budget. 

Governor Rick Snyder is now pushing the county to move the jail to the old Mound Road Correctional Facility on Detroit's East Side.  Snyder wants new development in the downtown entertainment district.  The county is considering selling the jail site, the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and 3 other nearby buildings.  They have 3 proposals they are considering, including a soccer stadium and other retail development.

The idea would be to create a regional criminal justice center at the Mound Road site – but it's not clear how the project will be financed.  The governor and Ficano want a city-county-state partnership.

Meanwhile, members of the Building Authority are meeting with Wayne County's Auditor General today.  The AG has been investigating the cost overruns in the jail project as well.  The AG's report has been turned over to the Wayne County Prosecutors office.  The Auditor General is required by law to turn over any findings that are potentially criminal in nature.  7 Action News has learned there are allegations key members of Ficano's administration withheld information about the real cost of the jail from the Wayne County Commission before they approved the project in 2010.  The Building Authority members say they are skeptical that any crimes were committed.

RELATED| New allegations of wrongdoing with Wayne Co. Jail construction project

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

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