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Ficano Suggests Scrapping Half-Finished Jail Project

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DETROIT (WWJ) – With construction suspended for running millions of dollars over budget, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano is now recommending walking away from the controversial downtown Detroit jail project.

Speaking before the Wayne County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday Ficano’s team says the best option would be to relocate the jail on state land over on Mound Road.

Chief of Staff, June Lee, laid out all possible options, including reducing the scope of the jail to get it finished within the original $300 million budget, as was authorized by the Wayne County commission. “Another option would be to build the jail at the current scope of 2,000 beds, which would require an additional $91 million,” Lee said.

The third option, which Ficano favors, would be to terminate the project.

“It’s always easy to look at the hindsight in the rearview mirror,” Ficano said. “What we’re doing is looking forward and saying, ‘Can we reset?’  And that’s not uncommon.

“Thinking back to the casinos; they were all supposed to be on the … riverfront, and that dramatically changed. It was reset and they did that,” Ficano said.

Touting the project last fall, Ficano said the new jail was supposed to save the county $20 million a year, when it opened in 2014, consolidating three county jail facilities.  But Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon expressed concerns that it wouldn’t be big enough.

The county has spent over $140 million on the failed project at the now-abandoned site. Construction was suspended two months ago.

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