New problems arise in county jail expansion

Unforeseen conditions by Turner Construction Company during the expansion of the Hays County Jail led County Commissioners to allocate money from within the project to fix the issues.

The unforeseen conditions include large amounts of water found upon drilling, old utility lines from a previous project and large amounts of debris dating back to the 1940s. Despite these obstacles, a solution is being worked out without overextending the project’s budget.

Codi Newsom, Senior Project Manager at ECM International, said the change order in Turner’s contract would not increase the total cost of the project and will still keep around $1.8 million left in the budget.

“We hit groundwater and pockets of perched water that we can’t put a pattern on,” Newsom said. “In collaboration with the design team and Turner, the solution is to go with straight shaft piers. We realized this issue in the first three bells and were able to mitigate any major rework.”

The site team also found utility lines including storm drainage and sewer lines. The team modified the foundation to bridge the storm drain lines, but the sewer lines posed a bigger issue.

No site plans showed any indication of sewer lines before they were discovered and poor soil was causing those pipes to degrade.

To mitigate the issue, Newsom said they provided an exit while the site is uncovered, allowing a new sewer system to work separately from the older lines.

The team also uncovered old building debris dating back 70 years, which was buried seven feet in the soil.

“We have to excavate seven feet down to get a suitable building pad and due to the existing lines and debris, it’s requiring more detailed work and excavation,” Newsom said.

The change order called to move $675,000 from the bond to Turner’s contract for the unforeseen conditions.

Of that amount, $500,000 would be allocated to the drilled piers and $175,000 to the utility lines and debris excavation.

Dan Lyon, a Hays County resident, urged the commission to proceed with caution as Turner Construction has asked for additional funding in the past for the expansion of the jail.

“They should have known (about the debris) when they bid the contract,” Lyon said. “We’ve had problems with Turner before and I wouldn’t vote to give them additional funding.”

Despite opposition, Newsome said changes would not affect the funding of the project.


The Commission unanimously approved for Turner Construction to address the concerns found during the excavation of the site.

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