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New Courthouse: On time, on budget
Number of workers soon to ramp up
Residents of Porterville are beginning to get a better idea of what the new courthouse will look like as the last large beam has been put in place on the three-story structure (four if you count the large basement).
Work on the 95,000 square foot structure is on time and on budget, said Teresa Ruano, communications specialist for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Jerry Avalos, who is with Vanir and project manager on the Porterville Courthouse and two other courthouse projects in the state, said they are monitoring weekly if they are on schedule and monitoring every day when it comes to budget.
The courthouse is funded from the sale of bonds late last year. Total estimated cost is $93 million and that includes land acquisition and furnishings. Porterville’s court is one of eight currently under construction around the state, said Ruano.
“The large beam columns are done,” said Avalos, who said it took 60 days to get the hundreds of thousands of tons of steel beams in place. The work is now shifting to plumbing, electrical and within a few weeks, interior and exterior walls. The goal was to be able to have enough of the framing and flooring done before winter settles in.
“We’re on target at this point,” said Avalos, adding that they will start interior framing next month and the outside walls should come along in late October.
He also said the number of workers at the site will begin to increase with more detailed work beginning. He estimated about 100 workers have been there daily the past few months, but that will grow to an eventual peak of about 300 workers and stay at that peak for three to six months, then begin to taper off as the project winds down.
“The bulk will be as we get into the winter months,” he said.
Workers have already begun pouring the flooring. “Once you’ve got those in place, we can really take off. You’re going to see a lot of people out here,” he added.
Saying “everybody’s excited about the project,” Avalos explained that a good number of the workers now and over the next few months come “from within a small radius of Porterville.”
He said the jobs are paying $200 to $400 a day.
“Contractors pull from local contracting pool. For the most part they are pulled from local union halls,” he said, explaining it is cheaper to hire locally to avoid having to pay “to put someone up.”
People will also begin to see the five elevators being installed, the development of the front of the building that will face southeast, and the canopy that will cover the main entrance.
A unique feature of the building, Avalos explained Thursday, is how it will be cooled.
Eventually, workers will install large thermal energy storage tanks on the west side of the building. Those tanks will freeze water at night during off-peak energy cost hours, then water will be passed over the ice in the morning to cool down the building.
“That will delay having to turn on the cooling units until late in the afternoon,” he said, calling the structure very energy efficient.
The courthouse, known as the South County Justice Center, will have nine courtrooms and be a full-service courthouse and will include 326 on-site parking spaces for staff and visitors, including a secure sally port for inmate transport. That means that many trials that are now held in Visalia, will be held in Porterville, including homicide cases.
Ground was broken in February and Avalos said they are in track for the October of 2013 opening.