SALT LAKE CITY — The state has narrowed its search for the specific location of a new Utah State Prison to a single site within some 4,000 acres west of Salt Lake City International Airport already identified for the project.
On Friday, the state Division of Facilities and Construction Management announced the elimination of a site on the east side due to environmental concerns and costs, in part because of an abandoned landfill.
The decision means the state will now focus on planning for the 4,000-bed prison that will replace the aging facility at the Point of the Mountain on a site located further west.
Construction of the $550 million new prison is expected to take four years, and work to prepare the site should begin later this year, once the purchase of the property is finalized, the division said.
The purchase price for the 500 acres needed for the prison has been estimated at $30 million. There had been liability issues associated with the potential contamination from disturbing the former landfill.
Both of the sites near the airport have issues with wetlands. The soil is so soggy, consultants have said it will take more than a year to ready it for construction, requiring pilings up to 12 stories deep.
Eric Tholen, a division director, said the elimination of the east site "represents our commitment to constructing the new prison in a manner that balances community and environmental interests" while meeting the needs of the prison staff, volunteers and inmates.
It was a year ago that lawmakers selected the area near I-80 and 7200 West over proposed locations in Eagle Mountain and Fairfield in Utah County, and Grantsville in Tooele County for the prison.
None of the communities considered for the prison wanted the project. State officials have said the airport location was selected because it has the most potential for economic development as utilities and other infrastructure are extended.
The state has already started planning for the development of the 700-acre site in Draper where the prison has been located for decades as part of what's being called the Silicon Slopes technology corridor along I-15.