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State Purchases Property For New Prison

A map of the western-most site the state chose back in August as the location for the new state prison.

The state of Utah has purchased 323 acres of land near the Salt Lake International Airport where the new state prison will be located. The purchase price was much lower than anticipated.

The land acquisition doesn’t mean the state can start developing the property just yet. They still have to obtain a 404 permit, which is required under the federal Clean Water Act.  Marilee Richins, Deputy Director of the Department of Administrative Services says land surveyors and civil engineers are working to obtain the permit by January.

Richins says after months of studies, planners were able to configure the site in such a way that did not require the state to buy additional land to act as a buffer between the campus and surrounding wetlands.

“That strategy saved the state millions of dollars while still offering the protection that was needed for those environmentally sensitive lands out there,” Richins says.

The Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management or DFCM purchased the land on Thursday for $12.4 million, but had anticipated it would cost as much as $30 million.

Without the federal permit, DFCM Director Eric Tholen says the state can still start work on the road that leads to the site. 

“The intent is somewhere around the end of November, we should start being able to prep and develop that haul road which then allows us and facilitates the access to the site for the trucks that would be hauling in the materials,” Tholen says.

In a statement, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said “The new facility will provide for the most modern, effective and efficient criminal justice system in the country; a prudent system that will keep our communities safe, reduce recidivism and respect the taxpayer”

Once construction begins, the project will take roughly four years to complete.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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