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August 27 2014


Large crane being used to place precast concrete as parking deck construction beginsWork on the Catawba County Justice and Public Safety Center project is progressing and may be more obvious to those passing by or visiting the campus as construction of a new parking deck has begun.

Construction crews began placing concrete on the parking deck on August 22 and continued that work during the week of August 25. The two-story parking deck will serve the expanded Justice Center and staff working at the Government Center. It includes an upper parking area located southeast of the Sheriff’s Office and a connecting lower parking area located to the west near the former animal shelter building. A large crane has been brought in for the laying of precast concrete sections of the deck, making the whole project more visible. The parking deck needs to be in place and operational before work on the Justice Center expansion can begin due to the loss of parking spaces in areas where the building will be expanding.

“The Catawba County Justice Center is more than thirty-five years old,” said Rodney Miller, Catawba County Finance Director who also serves as the County’s Facilities Manager. “Since its opening, there have been only minor interior renovations and one expansion to the building, namely the jail expansion in 2005. Courtroom space is no longer adequate to accommodate the growing number of caseloads. A new 911 Communications Center is needed due to inadequate space for equipment, lack of electrical power and limited options for remodeling. The County’s Emergency Operations Center is inadequate when activated for emergency situations. The County was cited by FEMA in September 2006 for inadequate space at the Emergency Operations Center.”

On October 21, 2013, the Catawba County Board of Commissioners awarded base bids for the Justice Center/Public Safety Center expansion to Hickory Construction Company. A set of additional alternates was awarded to Hickory Construction on November 18, 2013, with the bid awards totaling $24,562,600.

The expansion will result in three new courtrooms and space for court support functions, a new 911 Communications Center with ten consoles, a new Emergency Operations Center, expanded Clerk of Court space, offices for Emergency Services, District Attorney and Community Corrections, and the creation of “shell space” that can be used for any necessary future expansion to save costs should further expansion of the building be needed.

Funding for the project is coming from revenues from a ¼ cent sales tax increase approved by voters in 2007. These funds, along with 911 funds, have been accumulating since then to be used towards the project.

The Justice Center/Public Safety Center expansion is expected to take approximately two years to complete. A new entrance to the Sheriff’s Office has been created beside the existing Justice Center, including ramps and sidewalks, and will open in early September. The main entrance to the Justice Center will move temporarily from the current front, which faces Highway 321 Business, 90 degrees to the south or Sheriff’s Department side of the Justice Center building near the previous location of an ATM. The ATM has been relocated indoors in the Justice Center lobby area.

Once the major portion of the expansion to the Justice/Public Safety Center begins in November, traffic into and through the Government Center/Justice Center Complex will be ignificantly altered. An access road that currently runs in front of the Justice Center will be closed as work continues to expand the Justice Center eastward toward Highway 321 Business.

More information on those significant traffic flow changes will be announced before that part of the project begins.