BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Gov. Doug Burgum and Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller have announced the location and exterior design have been selected for the new North Dakota State Laboratory to be built in the northeast area of the Capitol grounds. The facility will be shared by the laboratory services divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The 2021 Legislature approved $15 million for the planning and design of a new lab, and the 2023 Legislature approved an additional $55 million to replace the existing facility, which is nearly 50 years old and faces ongoing infrastructure challenges.

Design for new State Laboratory (Photo Courtesy: North Dakota Office of the Governor)

“By siting the new State Laboratory on the Capitol grounds, we’re eliminating the need to purchase land, qualifying the building for lower utility rates and providing efficiencies through the lab’s proximity to the Department of Health and Human Services in the Capitol’s Judicial Wing,” said Miller, who chairs the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission. “We appreciate the Commission members, the project’s steering committee and the architects for developing a site plan and exterior building design that complement the Capitol grounds while meeting the needs of a state-of-the-art, world-class laboratory to help ensure the health and safety of our citizens.”

The State Laboratory assists labs throughout the state with consultation and training for the safe handling and testing of samples regarding germs or poisons. It also ensures compliance with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. The State Laboratory tests for various infectious diseases and supports water quality monitoring, mosquito/tick surveillance activities and investigational responses to natural or man-made disasters, such as sampling and testing water after a flood to ensure it’s safe to drink.

The new laboratory will preserve and advance the state’s ability to protect North Dakota’s public health and environment for future generations.

New North Dakota State Laboratory to be built on Capitol grounds (KXNET)
Design for new State Laboratory (Photo Courtesy: North Dakota Office of the Governor)

The state of the art, scalable lab is being designed to be flexible to meet immediate demands, adjust for growth opportunities and quickly pivot for public health or environmental emergencies. Modern mechanical equipment will ensure superior air quality and quantity, which are critical for a quality testing environment. The facility also will include a training lab for continuous learning and safety training.

The 100,000-square-foot, $70 million lab will be operated by approximately 50 team members from DHHS and DEQ.

Construction is expected to begin in April 2024 and be completed in June 2026.