The New Dallas County Forensic Science building has missed the past 6 opening dates with construction delays and cost overruns but a 7th date is now set for March 31st.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said it is the most frustrating project he’s seen in a quarter century in office. "Nothing has been as challenging as this particular building," Price said.
The new building on Stemmons Freeway near Wycliff will replace a 57-year-old structure near Parkland Hospital.
The old building has cramped outdated autopsy space and labs where technicians work on top of each other. It was built long before personal computers and modern crime scene investigation techniques.
Price said performing modern investigations in the old building is inefficient. "It costs us a lot more. We have to do a lot more to preserve the evidence," Price said.
Problems that caused delays at the new building included excessive moisture inside, roof top ventilation fans that caused vibration in sensitive building equipment and improper cleaning of fluid supply lines to equipment.
Price said the original cost of $45 million has increased about 7 percent with change orders during the project and another $500,000 worth of equipment was added.
The contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, blames the county for delays.
The company provided a written statement from Project Director James Leppo:
"McCarthy Building Cos. achieved substantial completion in 2009 on the Dallas County Forensic Science Building project. The County has added some changes beyond the original contract and asked McCarthy to complete some of the additional scope."
Price said he disagrees that the company is not to blame but that the county is focused for now on getting the building ready.
"It’s still a good investment. The problem is it’s a couple of years that it’s not open. They’re not utilizing the building," Price said.