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One More Year for Courthouse Construction

The $86 million justice center will house 16 courtrooms and allow the county to consolidate its offices into one building.

If everything remains on its current track, around this time next year county courthouse employees will begin moving their offices to the new Bucks County Justice Center on Main Street.

That's the estimation from Bucks County Commissioner Rob Loughery, who participated in a guided tour through the project site led by Bucks County Director of Operations Gerald Anderson.

Anderson spent an hour showing reporters around the eight-floor, 165,000 square-foot facility, highlighting new features that he says will create more efficiencies and safety features in the courthouse's operations.

For example, an administrative office will be located between two jury rooms, allowing one person to monitor two rooms at once. A dedicated elevator will allow the sheriff's department to transport prisoners in custody to holding cells located next to the courtrooms. At the current courthouse, when suspects are transported in the common elevators, the rest of the general public is barred from the lift.

According to Loughery and Anderson, the project costs are at $86 million, approximately $15 million below the estimate calculated three years ago. The project's start date got pushed back a few months as county officials worked through roadblocks in the approval process, including providing a plan to keep a portion of the Doylestown Armory incorporated into the building's design, preserving an important historic site.

Once completed, the justice center will have 16 court rooms in operation on the third, fourth and fifth floors, with the capacity to add three more if needed. The expanded space will allow the county to bring in offices scattered throughout Doylestown Borough, including the human resources department and the family courts. Those vacated buildings will most likely be sold, said Commissioner Charles Martin. Any offices and personnel that don't fit inside the justice center will backfill the old courthouse, said Loughery.

The most dramatic upgrades from the old courthouse to the justice center, however, won't be seen until closer to the project's end, according to Loughery.

"The audio-visual technology and the IT, that's where the biggest differences are," the commissioner said.

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