NASHVILLE - The State Building Commission today gave the nod to more than a half billion dollars worth of construction and upgrades for dozens of projects, including a $30 million, 512-bed expansion of the Bledsoe Correctional Facility in Pikeville.
Commission members also approved some $21 million to beef up security at state prisons, including $2.5 million to replace "aging and failing locking systems" in facilities statewide. Another $5 million addresses similar problems at the Mark Luttrell Correctional Center in Memphis.
Many of the projects were included in the new state budget that went into effect July 1 but required commission approval to proceed.
Closer to home, the commission gave the go ahead for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to proceed with a planned $8.7 million expansion of its central energy system, including selection of a designer. The project includes installing a 1,500-ton electric chiller and a high temperature hot water generate as well a 6,000 ton cooling tower.
Other approved projects or grants include:
• Harrison Bay State Park in Hamilton County will see $1.8 million in funding renovate an additional 88 campsites, two bath houses and utilities in the park's B and C camping areas. The money represents the second phase of an ongoing project.
• A $500,000 grant for the Chattanooga History Museum to help cover the costs of a new building and exhibits.
• The Tennessee Aquarium and the Chattanooga Zoo are each getting $250,000 grants.