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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah legislators said Tuesday that $100 million in additional infrastructure costs for the new state prison in Salt Lake City were left off the initial $550 million estimated cost of the prison because lawmakers didn't know until recently how much road improvements, utilities and other needs would cost.
Huntsville Republican Rep. Gage Froerer said legislators knew years ago that they would need extra money for infrastructure needs. But until state officials settled on a site near Salt Lake City's airport, "we couldn't put the final numbers together," he said.
Utah's House of Representatives on Monday night unveiled and then quickly passed a proposal to authorize an additional $100 million to pay for the new prison.
It passed after a few minutes of debate, including objections from Democratic Rep. Sandra Hollins, whose district will be home to the new prison. Hollins questioned what the project's eventual price tag will be if additional costs keep being tacked on.
Froerer said the passage was so quick because they couldn't unveil a proposal until the end of last week when legislators settled the budget. The proposal now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Consultants hired by the state had estimated that the new prison will cost about $550 million and be completed around 2020. A state commission overseeing the relocation of the prison from Draper to Salt Lake City warned late last year of the extra expenses, which now pushes the cost to about $650 million. Gov. Gary Herbert also noted the additional costs in his budget proposal released in December.
Layton Republican Sen. Jerry Stevenson, who has worked closely on the prison relocation, said Tuesday that they have known the prison itself would cost $550 million, and that there would be some type of big infrastructure cost anywhere they moved the prison.
"It's a little bit like alcohol," he said. "It's very fluid."
Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price contributed to this report.
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