Wayne County jail contracts torn up

By Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Dec 24 2013 03:16:28 AM EST
Updated On: Aug 15 2013 06:54:24 PM EDT

The Wayne County Building Authority tore up its contract with Walbridge-dck Thursday, putting an end to a staggering disaster.

DETROIT -

The Wayne County Building Authority voted Thursday to end its jail construction deal with Walbridge-dck.

It ends the $70,000-a-day cost of not building the over-budget jail project. However, the $120 million in taxes sunk into downtown Detroit ground will go largely wasted.

Rod Meloni: Wayne County jail project: It's over downtown!

The wind-down cost is estimated between $5-$10 million.

"I'm not so proud that I go down a road that if it's not working out that I don't correct it and move on at that point," said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano on Wednesday. "At this particular junction I think that it becomes a win-win for everybody."

That is what Ficano's team tried to sell the Building Authority on Thursday. It left the construction manager AECOM-Ghafari's contract in place. Ficano claims it is responsible for $42 million in change orders -- or cost orders -- that no one in his administration knew about.

The Building Authority's members, whose job it was to oversee that process, are frustrated. Chairperson Eileen DeHart pointed out the authority has been kept in the dark all along and did not even get the proposal that would allow the state, the city and the county to partner on a new jail at the old Mound Road site until Thursday, pushing a decision into the fall.

"We have to make sure that all the options are done and we're not going to jump into this simply because it looks like a way out. We're going to look at all the options and make a determination based on all the facts," said DeHart.

The Building Authority met with the Wayne County Auditor General, Willie Mayo, after its morning meeting to hear his assessment of what went wrong. Mayo took part of his audit to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy believing there was criminal wrongdoing in this project.

Read: Wayne County jail project under investigation

That report should be seen sometime next week.

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