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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah state officials are being forced to explain why they never revealed the original cost estimate for a new state prison that is much higher than budgeted cost.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that an $860 million estimate by a consultant had never been discussed in a public hearing until last week when lawmakers grilled prison relocation officials about why the project is expected to cost $692.5 million, up from $650 million.

Officials and lawmakers who pushed to move the prison from its current site in Draper, in part to free up land for new development, deny lowballing the cost to drum up support.

Sen. Jerry Stevenson, co-chairman of the commission, says the estimate was based on other new prisons in the country and that they knew Utah could build a new prison for less.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,