SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open a brand new prison on Wednesday in Salt Lake City.

The new Utah State Correctional Facility (USCF) will be located five miles west of the Salt Lake City International Airport and is replacing the current prison facility in Draper. The massive project is six years in the making, with the land for the new facility purchased back in 2016.

Total cost of the facility, including infrastructure, is approximately $1.05 billion.

Comprised of 35 buildings and 1.35 million square feet of operational space, the facility spans 172 acres and holds 3,600 beds, with the ability for future expansion if needed. 

Officials say keeping the current prison in Draper would cost the state an estimated $239 million in repairs and upgrades over the next 20 years to keep the facility operating at its current capacity.

“Today is truly a landmark day for the Department of Corrections and the state of Utah as we celebrate the largest construction project in Utah history,” says Gov. Spencer Cox. “This facility will provide a safe and secure environment conducive to recovery and rehabilitation for up to 3,600 inmates. It will also give our corrections employees the space they need to do their difficult jobs. We applaud the hard work of so many who made this achievement possible.”

State officials say the Draper prison site will be redeveloped and estimated to bring in around $1.8 billion in annual economic output and $94.6 million in annual tax revenue for state and local governments.

“The Salt Lake site was selected unanimously by the Utah Prison Relocation Committee (PRC), and approved by the Utah State Legislature and Governor,” officials say. “A critical part of that decision was that operating a facility on the Salt Lake City site would be significantly less costly and more efficient than the other sites – by hundreds of millions of dollars. The PRC and the legislature agreed that those savings would, in a manner of a just a few years, make up for the higher upfront costs of the Salt Lake City site.”

Other Utah lawmakers and officials who attended the ribbon-cutting include:

  • Brian Nielson, executive director, Utah Department of Corrections
  • Jim Russell, director, Division of Facilities and Construction Management
  • Senate President J. Stuart Adams
  • House Speaker Brad Wilson
  • Sen. Jerry Stevenson
  • Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson

Inmates currently residing in the Draper prison will begin transferring to the Salt Lake Correctional facility in the next few weeks, officials say.

“DFCM is proud to have completed the largest construction project in the state’s history,” said Jim Russell, director of the Division of Facilities and Construction Management. “Our team, together with our partners, did a masterful job overcoming insurmountable challenges to complete this world-class, state-of-the-art facility that will serve the state of Utah for the next 100 years. We firmly believe that by all measures, this project has been a complete success.”