CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Efforts to consolidate a large number of state run laboratory space under one roof is taking shape in South Charleston. Department of Administration Secretary Mark Scott provided lawmakers with a recent update of the status of the project which is getting off the ground at the West Virginia Technology Park in South Charleston.

“Most of the site has been cleared and we are going through to determine if we may need four or five more acres cleared, but that’s a lot better than having to clear the entire site,” Scott explained.

Design for the new lab facility is still being completed. It will include labs from seven state agencies along with Marshall and West Virginia University. Scott indicated there might also be an extra lab to accommodate temporary needs of private business or the potential for other labs to expand.

Although there will be some shared space like restrooms and lobby areas, each of the labs will be self-contained and strictly controlled by the agency in charge.

“They each have to maintain their autonomy so they can maintain their security over chain of custody,” Scott said.

The lab building will be close to 300,000 square feet and will be visible from Interstate 64 atop the hill in the Tech Park.

“It will be the diamond of the tech part once it’s completed. I think it’s something we’re all going to be proud of,” he added.

The facility will house space for the Department of Health’s Office of Laboratory Services, which is currently three labs in separate locations which will be pulled into the building. The Division of Labor’s Office of Weights and Measures will move their lab from St. Albans into the facility. State Police and the Department of Homeland Security will have a presence with their forensics lab in the building. The State Medical Examiner would also get new space to leave the old and cramped quarters it currently occupies on the west side of Charleston.

Scott added WVU and Marshall have also been pulled into the project where they’ll have a lab presence largely envisioned for training purposes. However, one of the original state labs included in the project, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, will not be part of the facility. State Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt has been adamantly opposed to his agency putting its lab services under the same roof as the rest of state government. Governor Jim Justice however has called for the Department of Agriculture Labs to be relocated onto the campus of West Virginia State University in Institute.

Scott also noted a couple of labs currently run by the Department of Environmental Protection are being phased out and although were originally part of the project are now no longer included.