Wayne County Exec. Robert Ficano's administration wants to suspend work on new jail

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano's administration recommends that work done on the new jail be suspended for 60 days due to cost overruns, which they in part blame on the contractor Walbridge.

At the start of Thursday's Wayne County Commission meeting, Ficano's chief of staff June Lee read a statement about the jail project. He said that there was lots of "misinformation," regarding it.

He also said that the administration was "surprised" when it learned in May from Walbridge that the cost for the new jail would be no more than $267 million, compared to $246 million Walbridge said it would be just days earlier.

Lee said Walbridge provided no explanation for the increased cost and that it was "unacceptable." He also said that the cost of the jail is now estimated to be $391 million.

7 Action News contacted Walbridge, but have not yet received a returned call from the company.

County commissioners raised questions about a clause in Walbridge's contract with the county that prohibits the company from talking about the project without county approval.

The jail project has been controversial from the start – it's over budget and it's not going to be big enough to close all of the old county jails.

With $300 million dollars in bonds approved for the new Wayne County Jail – the taxpayers are on the hook for a project that has been plagued with controversy from the start.

7 Action News reported earlier this week that Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is in talks about the possibility of developing the current site of the new jail – or to help facilitate someone else buying the property. A spokeswoman for Ficano also told us they are in discussions with the state to lease the Mound facility for $1 a year – but they would still have to spend money on renovations there as well.

Wayne County has already spent $100 million on the new jail.


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