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The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A new Maryland State Police facility being built along Interstate 70 near Hagerstown could be ready sooner than expected.

Construction was expected to be completed by Jan. 1, but now state police might be able to move into the facility by early or mid-December.

The new building will replace a cramped barrack that was built in 1973 and which officials have outgrown. The new building will house a training classroom, a Maryland Natural Resources Police office and a data center. A separate garage will house a bomb squad trailer and another part of that building will house a data recovery center.

The roughly $10 million new Maryland State Police facility being built along Interstate 70 near Hagerstown has been drawing curious stares and questions, particularly about the large chimneys protruding from the roof, according to state police.

Lt. Thomas Woodward said passersby have been wondering if there are fireplaces in the Colonial-style building.

“There are no fireplaces,” Woodward said.

Four of the chimneys will be for air-handling systems and to provide for air exhaust for the Western Maryland Crime Laboratory, he said.

The other two chimneys are not functional, Woodward said.

Work is progressing on the building, and although construction initially was expected to be completed by Jan. 1, it is possible that the state police might be able to move into the facility by early or mid-December, Woodward said.

The facility, being built by Manekin Construction LLC of Columbia, Md., has experienced typical glitches but they were worked out, Woodward said. Everything that is needed for the inside, including furniture, has been ordered, he said.

The new barrack will replace a cramped, worn-out barrack that was built in 1973. The new facility is being built around the old barrack, which is slated to be demolished within several weeks after state police move into the new facility, Woodward said.

The new brick, two-story building looms over the smaller, one-story barrack at 18345 Colonel Henry K Douglas Drive.

Troopers will work on the first floor of the 25,747-square-foot building, which also will have a training classroom, a Maryland Natural Resources Police office and a data center.

There is a separate 7,148-square-foot garage, where a bomb-squad trailer will be kept. Part of that building — 2,100 square feet — will house a disaster data-recovery center that will have servers to back up the central data center at the state police headquarters in Pikesville, Md., state police have said.

Woodward said an attractive feature of the building is that it will have male and female dormitories, which will save state police from having to pay hotel expenses for officers who need to come to the state police facility for work.

The dormitories include four beds for males and two beds for females, Woodward said.

Woodward said the current barrack used to have dormitories but the space was needed to make room for the crime lab, which is in the basement of the current barrack.

A new space was needed for the crime lab because it was cramped for space in the current building, Woodward said. The new building will expand the space for the laboratory to more than six times its existing space, state police have said.

The new space will provide room for chemistry, DNA testing and latent fingerprint laboratories, as well as evidence processing and storage areas, state police said previously.

The new facility will also house the local Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, which is now on North Jonathan Street in Hagerstown, Woodward said. Moving the fire marshal into the new building will save the agency’s rent expenses, he said.

“It’s a gorgeous structure. Inside it’s going to be very functional,” Woodward said.

Moving the fire marshal’s office will also improve response times to calls because investigators will be closer to interstate highways, said Larry Iseminger, chief engineer for the local state fire marshal’s office.

In addition, being closer to troopers will help the state fire marshal’s office, Iseminger said.

The project originally went to bid in 2009. The lowest bid, submitted by Warner Construction, was $8.9 million. Six of the 15 bids were eliminated for not meeting state Minority Business Enterprise requirements.

The disaster data-recovery center was added to the project before the second round of bids.

The second time, Manekin Construction’s $10.1 million bid was lowest. Warner Construction was second at $10.6 million.

Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., http://www.herald-mail.com

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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