By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- Construction of the area's next regional jail remains on schedule and within budget, according to project officials.
The Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail Authority board heard an update on the $80 million project at its meeting Thursday.
"Rains have slacked up on the site, which has given the contractors a good window ... to get the site in order, and the site has made quite the transformation just in the last two weeks," said James Marstin, the authority's owner representative. "He really was combating rain and having to work to wash the site and clean the site up and just having the good weather has really helped him."
Howard Shockey & Sons is the general contractor for the jail. Moseley Architects and Patton, Harris, Rust & Associates also are involved with the project. Moseley Architects has indicated the project is "off to a good start," according to an Oct. 19 letter to Marstin.
In a report dated Sept. 13-14, Marstin noted construction had fallen behind by a couple of weeks as a result of rain. A report two weeks later indicated the site still suffered from muddy conditions, but crews made efforts to maintain the grounds.
Crews recently began installing concrete walls for the structure, Marstin said. The contractor expects to begin receiving deliveries of the precast jail cells within the week, according to Marstin.
In response to questions posed by Shenandoah County Supervisors Chairman Conrad Helsley, Marstin said the jail remains under budget despite requests by the contractor seeking more money to perform certain parts of the work.
Change orders are not uncommon at the early stages of construction projects of this magnitude, according to Marstin, who has overseen other jail projects. Such requests slow in the last period, Marstin said. The representative told the board that, of the change orders he's signed, "the credits have outweighed the charges."
As Marstin explained, the project budget includes $2.2 million to $2.4 million, more than 2 percent, as a contingency for cost overruns such as those that arise with change orders. Such costs have barely tapped into the contingency, according to Marstin. He added that there will be quite a few change orders coming in during the first few months.
"We're not going over $50,000 -- we've had $50,000 in contingency that we are spending right now, and that's not anything that we don't expect on any project," Marstin added.
Marstin recalled that the most recent project he oversaw had approximately $2 million in change orders.
"So you're comfortable with where we are?" Helsley asked. "Within budget?"
"Very comfortable, within budget and actually looking very well for this early in the project," Marstin said.
Warren County Supervisor Dan Murray and Doug Walker, county administrator for Shenandoah County, did not attend the meeting.
At the board's transition committee meeting, members discussed the issue of setting salaries for future staff of the jail as well as benefits. The committee looked at salary data collected for the county jails as well as the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center in Frederick County and the Blue Ridge Regional Jail in Lynchburg. Officials noted the salaries for staff at the RSW facility likely would fall somewhere between the pay given by the two regional jails.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org