Kansas is moving forward with a plan to have the nation’s largest private prison operator build a new state prison at the Lansing Correctional Facility.

Kansas legislators gave their final approval Wednesday to the project during a meeting with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. A state law authorizing the new prison in Lansing required a final go-ahead from the Legislature’s top eight leaders.

“I think it will be good for our community,” said state Rep. Debbie Deere, D-Lansing. “I am glad to see this happen. It’s right for our community.”

Tennessee-based CoreCivic will build a new, 2,400-bed prison to replace the state’s oldest and largest prison in Lansing.

The new facility will include 1,920 beds for maximum- and medium-security inmates and 512 beds for minimum-security inmates, Deere said.

The new facility will feature improved lighting and modern utility systems. It will also feature modern security systems that will include magnetic door switches and enhanced video surveillance systems.

The state of Kansas will pay for the project over 20 years through a lease with the company and spend a total $362 million. The state will oversee day-to-day operations.

The legislative leaders and Brownback split 6-3 over the project.

The Department of Corrections has faced skepticism about whether the lease-purchase deal is the most cost-effective option.

“This is exciting news,” said Lansing City Administrator Tim Vandall. “We are thrilled that it passed. The city of Lansing is going to continue our great partnership (with the prison) that we’ve had for 150 years.”

Deere said the design phase of the project will soon begin and last for approximately six months. Construction then will begin on the new prison and last for about 18 months. She said plans are for the new prison to be open in about two years.

Brownback visited the Lansing Correctional Facility on Jan. 16 and said the “facility really needs to be replaced.”

“We need a modernized facility, one that is safe for people to work in and for the inmates to be in,” he said. “The best practices of 150 years ago are not the best practices today.”