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Article updated: 12/10/2012 4:28 PM

Cook County jail getting $34 million renovation


Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday the start of a major construction project at the Cook County Department of Corrections and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago.

The three-year, $34 million project will replace critical heating, cooling and control systems, install new insulation and upgrade lighting systems.

The anticipated energy savings generated by these improvements is expected to pay for the project within 20 years. The construction project is also expected to create more than 350 jobs.

"This critical construction project continues our efforts to modernize Cook County government and promote efficiencies wherever possible, particularly in energy use," Preckwinkle said. "We're creating jobs, reducing carbon emissions and energy use and bringing county operations into the 21st century."

Construction will encompass 22 buildings totaling four million square feet at the Cook County Jail, Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center and administration buildings. The work continues the efforts already undertaken by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

"Since taking office, modernizing our entire detention facility has been a priority," Dart said. "Because the jail runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we use much energy; this project will ultimately help to reduce that. It is a win-win-win for the county. We are able to reduce costs to taxpayers, reduce energy consumption and at the same time create jobs."

The Cook County Department of Corrections is one of the largest single-site county pre-detention facilities in the nation. The facility covers more than eight city blocks with 10 divisions, a health services facility, two education departments, a privatized food service and commissary agency, and four additional on-site sheriff's departments.

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