Cass County Jail expansion bids come in $1 million under estimate
Addition will help with bookings, add holding cells
FARGO — On March 15, three Fargo contractors are expected to be awarded bids for a Cass County Jail expansion project involving enlarging the booking and holding cell area.
The bids came in about $1.1 million below the architect's estimates, which Cass County commissioners were happy to hear at their meeting on Monday, March 1.
County Administrator Robert Wilson said the bids totaled about $4.7 million, well below the estimate of $5.8 million for construction.
Engineering, architectural and other fees will raise the cost of the project, but the savings were substantial for the new addition to the south side of the jail.
TF Powers Co. was the lowest bid out of five for general construction work at $3.1 million in tight, competitive bidding for all three contracts.
Vinco Co., which has an office in Fargo, came in with the lowest electrical bid out of six bidders for $927,800, and Dakota Plains Mechanical Corp. put forward the lowest mechanical bid out of five for $693,544.
The project is being paid for with federal COVID-19 relief funds that were awarded to the county.
Sheriff Jesse Jahner said the lack of space in the booking and holding cell area became more of a serious problem since the pandemic struck as there weren't enough individual intake cells to separate those who had been arrested for various crimes around the county.
In the new facility, Jail Administrator Andy Frobig said the number of holding cells will be doubled from 10 to 20.
Nineteen of the cells are individual holding cells, while one is larger for a group of up to five people.
The project is more involved than just the cells, Frobig said. It also involves adding work stations for officers during bookings, a second interrogation room, another breathalyzer machine and room, a drug observation and testing room and a new garage where squad cars deliver arrestees, he said.
It will also help isolate people to test for the coronavirus. A separate wing of the jail with single cells has been set aside to help with the COVID-19 isolation, but this will improve the initial quarantine process.
Frobig said those who are intoxicated have to be kept in separate cells for observation, too.
Jahner said special suicidal watch cells are also part of the monitoring, and two of the new cells will be capable of fulfilling that need.
Many of the new additions will allow deputies and Fargo police officers to get back out on the streets faster, he said.
The bids are expected to be officially awarded on March 15 when a schedule for construction and estimated completion will be presented.