Brazos County District Judges Want More Space In Courthouse

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Frustrations are growing at the Brazos County Courthouse over the ongoing renovations that never seems to end.

This time the three district judges are concerned plans to remodel the now vacant fourth floor doesn't account for enough space for juries as well as them.

Costs have continued to climb since construction began more than six years ago.

In June 2010 the price tag rose by more than a million dollars when poor welding work was discovered on concrete panels incorrectly installed in 1984.

They were replaced by a new glass façade.

Then in September 2011 heavy rains flooded offices after a leak was found in the roof, this also delayed construction work.

News 3 was at the meeting Thursday afternoon and heard from the three district judges about their concerns.

The ongoing saga of construction continues at the Brazos County Courthouse as district judges made a plea to county commissioners to give them more space with more construction about to start.

You can see a difference when you walk onto the second floor of the Brazos County Courthouse.

After years of construction this courtroom is about to be finished.

While the entire fourth floor that used to be a jail is gutted.

This will be the new home of the three Brazos County District Courts.

The judges have concerns about the space.

"I don't want to make it seem like it's a mountain, it may be closer to a small mountain or even a mole hill but we feel like it's important to the jurors and the courthouse staff to have these district courts adequate," said Judge Travis Bryan III, of the 272nd District Court.

Judges Travis Bryan III, Steve Smith and J.D. Langley say they just saw plans for the fourth floor two weeks ago and while they are all getting more space, they are concerned jury's will still be cramped.

The plans are to put in a meeting room on the fourth floor, which the judges say is a waste of space.

They'd rather have more room for jurors.

“You’re looking at numbers that are not telling you the real story," said Judge J.D. Langley, of the 85th District Court.

Fred Patterson with Patterson Architects discussed the square footage plans with commissioners. 95 percent of the drawing work is completed.

"The problem we've had with all spaces in the building is we've got this block in the building that we are trying to shoehorn everything into it," he said.

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters says he'd rather consider minor changes.

"We’re pretty far into it right now to be making changes that are significant. I mean it would cost us a pretty good bit of money to have the architect redraw plans that are there. If we could figure out a way to make some minor changes we can take a look at that," Peters said.

"So far I think the commissioners have done a good job on it, but this is one little area that's special to us that we really want to you know, we're talking about 25 to 30 years here and every square foot helps," Judge Bryan said.

Commissioners hope to have construction on the fourth floor started by summer and this phase would take an estimated 18 months.

Judge Peters added that there could be even more phases of construction down the line after this fourth phase.

Commissioners took no action in the workshop Thursday and expect to make a decision in the coming weeks so they can start accepting bids.

So far Madison Construction was awarded work on the previous phases of remodeling.