Assessing the wetlands
Report on Justice Center impacts to adjacent land nearly done
Steamboat Springs — A report assessing impacts on wetlands adjacent to the new Routt County Justice Center should be available to the public “in the next 30 days,” Routt County building and plant director Tim Winter said Monday.
Winter said consultants from international engineering firm WorleyParsons Komex will prepare the report, copies of which will be available for public viewing at the Routt County Courthouse Annex on Sixth Street. Winter said the document will be the first of five annual reports required from Routt County by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps approved wetland mitigation plans in 2005 for construction of the Justice Center.
Winter said he expects a “check-up” visit from Army Corps staff in coming months.
“I’m sure they’ll be out here this summer,” Winter said. “But they’re not scheduled for a specific time yet.”
Construction of the Justice Center has drawn scrutiny since its inception, primarily due to the wetlands on the building’s 5-acre site adjacent to the Routt County Jail, two miles west of downtown Steamboat Springs. An underground tunnel connecting the jail to the Justice Center initially had significant problems with water seepage. As of September 2006, nearly 8.5 million gallons of water had been pumped from the underground tunnel site, after crews tapped into a large amount of underground water.
Winter acknowledged Mon-
day that subcontractor crews are still applying a waterproof sealant to “areas that have been seeping” in the tunnel.
Routt County Commissioner Doug Monger said Monday that crews are no longer using pumps to remove water from the tunnel, which Monger said held less than two inches of water only at the tunnel’s lowest point after it was recently allowed to “sit” for two weeks.
The tunnel was installed in July and August 2006 in pre-cast chunks of concrete. The 200-foot secure tunnel is designed for transporting inmates.
In January, engineer Paul Barry of Oak Creek said when the Justice Center is opened to the public, “no one will even know there was a water issue or that it’s a tunnel completely submerged in water.”
Completion of the Justice Center remains on track for September, Winter and Monger said Monday. While the project was initially estimated at a total cost of $13.4 million, Winter said the actual cost will exceed $14 million – requiring the use of contingency funds included in the original budget plans.
Winter said work is progressing on probation offices on the building’s garden-level floor, exterior brickwork, courtrooms on the first and second floor and exterior metalwork.
“There’s a lot of work moving ahead in a lot of areas,” Winter said.
Most prominent to passersby on Shield Drive are the large glass windows at the Justice Center’s front entrance, which is topped by a structure containing translucent glass plates that Winter said will spread diffused, natural light into the building.
After completion of the Justice Center, county officials will begin an extensive remodeling of the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue, and of the Courthouse Annex. County Manager Tom Sullivan said Monday the state Department of Local Affairs has awarded Routt County a $1 million energy impact grant to help fund the courthouse remodeling project.
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.