After a decade of planning, the largest and most expensive project in the county is finally underway as commissioners and members of the community broke ground for the new Bucks County Justice Center Tuesday morning.
The $84 million project, which is being built on site of the old Doylestown parking garage, is slated to take two years to complete.
A court ruling just 10 days before the groundbreaking handed over ownership of the borough construction site to the county, solidifying the next chapter in Bucks County’s justice system.
“That chapter is starting today and you can hear it behind us,” said Bucks County Commissioner Robert Loughery, as dump trucks and backhoes hauled debris in the blazing sun.
Loughery added that Bucks County contractors and businesses will be employed to help throughout the construction process, creating hundreds of local jobs within the next two years.
Joining Loughery were Bucks County Commissioner Charles Martin, President Judge Susan D. Scott, Lt. Gov. of Pennsylvania Jim Cawley, Doylestown Mayor Libby White, Doylestown Borough Council Vice President Lou White and Director of Operations Jerry Anderson.
“There are many judges who thought this day would never come,” Scott said, referencing an original planning report dated April 2001. “I’d like to commend the commissioners in their resolve and for persisting.”
The 285,000-square-foot Justice Center and secure parking facility was designed by HOK Architects to fit into the aesthetic of Doylestown Borough. The project will involve 200 tons of steel and a 196-foot crane scheduled to arrive in September or October. The basement of the facility will be constructed 30 feet below street level, and two subterranean floors will be built further down the site’s hill.
“A project of this size that we initiate today in the center of an old town adjacent to people’s homes is certainly a challenge,” Lou White said.
To minimize disruption in the community, contractors have limited working hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The county’s commitment to public service also includes using environmentally-friendly materials. Recycled building materials as well as high efficiency windows, lights and heating and cooling systems will save more than $600,000 in construction costs, Libby White said.
Donning hard hats, Martin led the officials in lifting their shovels and formally opening construction on the Justice Center shortly after 10 a.m.—an action 10 years in the making.