The new county jail in Indio, the John J. Benoit Detention Center is almost complete nearly two years behind schedule.
Assistant County Executive Officer, Robert Field, says “The day it’s completed will be the day the Sheriff’s Department signs off on it.”
He took us through the facility for a second time along with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Deputy Mike Vasquez.
Vasquez says, “Once we get those keys, we’re going to have a 30-day window which will allow us to do inspection and training.”
The records show it’s been a long time coming.
The original substantial completion date was December 21, 2017.
That makes the project 635 days late.
“It’s no secret the project is behind schedule,” says Field.
While it remains within budget, the county and the contractor, Clark Construction are at odds with more than $36 million in claims in dispute.
“We’re in the process of sorting that out, as you can see they’re still working diligently on finishing the project, so our relationship with Clark is okay.”
A spokesperson for Clark provided a statement reading in part, “Recently, the project has experienced delays due to significant unforeseen design and structural revisions to fire and life safety systems.”
“Clark Construction Group – California, LP is nearing completion of the John J. Benoit Detention Center and is focused on preparing the facility for turn over to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department this fall.
Recently, the project has experienced delays due to significant unforeseen design and structural revisions to fire and life safety systems. The County requested modifications to these systems, including audio/visual enhancements to heighten the overall safety of the facility. We are currently working to incorporate these changes. From the outset of this project, Clark Construction has been collaborative and transparent with the County, our project partners, and the public. We look forward to turning over a fully-operational and state-of-the-art facility this fall that will serve this community’s needs for decades to come.”
Photos provided by the sheriff’s department in April show the jail appears to be close to being finished.
Mostly minor repairs remain like cracks in the lobby floor.
The commissioning process is now underway, where control of the building will be shifted over to the sheriff’s department.
“From the 31 day mark to the 90 day period, we’re going to be rotating the inmate population from our old facility to here,” Deputy Vasquez says.
The new jail will have 1,626 beds, up from just 353 at the current Indio jail.
It’s not clear how soon the sheriff’s department will be able to staff-up to fully open the facility.
The Sheriff’s Department has hundreds of openings right now, including many for the jail.
Those jobs include everything from housekeeping to correctional deputies, health care staff, and more.
Once the 90-day window is complete, and the Indio jail population is fully moved into the new facility, the old jail will be demolished and new parking will be added in its place.
Phase two of the project is expected to be completed sometime late next summer.
Almost exactly one year ago, John White uncovered the reasons for the delays.
Earlier this year, the I-Team took a look at the progress toward opening the jail.