Construction on a new 4,000-bed prison in Elmore County is “moving along really well,” according to State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville).

During an interview on “Capitol Journal” Sunday, Chambliss said that the site preparation work and dirt moving had been completed.

"That was a monumental task. I think it was some 300 acres," he said. "All this dirt has been moved; the pads have been leveled; the area is leveled. Some, I think, 200 acres or so where the buildings are going to be, that's all complete. That's a lot of work that's been accomplished."

Chambliss said the project site now looks "like a bomb went off" as crews install sewage and draining lines while also precasting the concrete cells that will go inside the new prison.

"They're doing that on-site and stockpiling them so that — it takes a long time to do that," he said. "You got to let them cure before you can move them… They've gotten a head start on that, so then when they need them, they'll have them ready."

By switching from dormitory style to "predominately" cell style, Chambliss said the new prison would provide a safer environment for inmates and corrections officers.

"Whatever condition that those inmates are in, the corrections officers are in those same conditions," he said. "...[Cell style] is a game changer when it comes to security… It will be totally different when it comes to the safety of our correctional officers. I think that's the key to get the staffing level to where we need it to be."

Though other state legislators, like State Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Josephine), have criticized the project's slow pace, Chambliss seemed pleased with how things are progressing.

"It's moving along really well," he said.

Chambliss expects to have 1,000 workers on site by late spring or summer.

In October 2021, Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation allocating $785 million to build two new 4,000-bed men's mega prisons in Elmore and Escambia counties.

Ivey has said the Elmore facility should be functional by the summer of 2026.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email [email protected].

Don't miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.