AUGUSTA — The hole in the outside wall of the Kennebec County jail is designed to let people and materials into the building, not out of it.

On Tuesday, workers from Callahan Construction were shifting pieces of prefabricated flooring into the former indoor recreation area at the jail as part of a long-anticipated expansion project.

Kennebec County officials spent most of 2016 working out plans to expand the capacity of the chronically overcrowded jail by converting the recreation space into a two-story housing space for 21 inmates, with bunk beds on the upper floor and a common area on the lower floor. The project went out to bid in September.

“It’s pretty cool what they are doing (Tuesday),” Robert Devlin, Kennebec County administrator, said. “They are lifting the flooring in.”

It will sit on three brackets that were installed following demolition. Once they are all in place, he said, workers will pour a thin leveling mixture over it to make the floor surface on the upper floor.

Passersby and those searching out parking to attend Kennebec County noontime inauguration ceremonies in Hill House, the county offices adjacent to the jail, were caught by surprise by the work Tuesday. Parking was at a premium because of the project.

To move the flooring in, Callahan Construction workers were using a crane to slide the flooring in. They also had to drive two forklifts into the construction site via a hole in the wall to facilitate the work.

“That area is nowhere near the inmate housing area,” Devlin said. “They can’t get down there.”

Callahan Construction was awarded the bid in mid-November for $638,056, and demolition started shortly after that.

When the project is completed later this year, the jail’s capacity will be 168, up from 147.

On Tuesday, the jail’s population was 157, but the county typically supervises about twice that number of people. Most are supervised by Maine Pretrial Services, and others are boarded at other jails in Maine. At times, the jail’s population has reached more than 200, prompting a request from then-Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty in 2015 to local police agencies to limit arrests.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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