Project commences to restore courthouse parking lot

The County-City Building is looking good for a 45-year-old thanks to an exterior makeover that is being completed this year. The surrounding campus will see changes this summer and fall that are even more dramatic. The result will be a campus that is safer and more convenient for people who visit for court cases or other business and for employees who work there.

The first project involves reconstructing a parking lot that served as the Jail Annex site from 1996 until spring of 2003. The county has given Serpanok Construction Inc., Tacoma, notice to proceed with the parking lot project, and work is expected to begin before week’s end. Scheduled for completion by July 30, the parking lot will have 169 spaces, including 18 for handicapped motorists. The project includes installing an asphalt overlay, curbing, striping, lighting and a parking attendant fee collection booth.

“The City of Tacoma and surrounding community were patient through the eight years the necessary, but unattractive, Jail Annex occupied the site. We promised the annex would be removed and the parking lot restored after the new jail was built,” said County Executive John Ladenburg. “We’re keeping that promise.”

Even before taking office in January 2001, Ladenburg was concerned about the deteriorating condition of the courthouse and other county buildings. As a result, he instituted a $1.885 million, four-year renovation program. This is the final year, and work on the north wing will commence in July.

“The County-City Building represents a significant public investment. We need to protect it,” said Ron Klein, the county’s communications director. “In addition, a refurbished building and a safer, more attractive campus project the right image about Pierce County government: professional, capable and responsive.”

The $1.3 million campus project, which will be completed this fall, also involves the following:

– Repaving Nollmeyer Lane (10th Street South), which runs between Yakima Avenue and the tower area. The existing sidewalks will be removed, and a terraced walkway will be constructed from Yakima Avenue to the County-City Building entrance. Planters will be constructed on both sides of Nollmeyer, new pedestrian lighting installed and a wall constructed between the parking lot and Nollmeyer Lane. “This work will improve the campus appearance, but improved safety is the first consideration. The steep and sometimes slippery slope down Nollmeyer Lane will be replaced with a terraced walkway. Parking will be removed from Nollmeyer Lane and traffic reduced to employee and commercial vehicles only,” Klein said.

– Replanting the lawn and installing a new sidewalk between the parking lot and the County-City Building’s south wing. A lighted colonnade and landscaped trellis and planters will be installed between the parking lot and lawn. The nearby second floor entrance plaza will be replaced, and benches for county visitors and employees will be added. At the west end of the 11-story tower, new planters and walkway will be constructed, and a smoking shelter will be provided.

The end result will be an abundance of greenery, including nearly 100 trees and more than 100 shrubs and 300 perennials in addition to climbing vines and ground cover plantings. As a sign of the times, new planters, curbs and bollards have been designed in a manner that is intended to reduce the possibility of a vehicular attack on the building from the west.

As with all construction projects, hazards exist when equipment and machinery are operating in areas in close proximity to pedestrians and vehicles. Citizens and employees are warned to use extreme caution when traversing through and around the areas involving construction activities.

“This is an exciting project, and we hope visitors and employees share our enthusiasm about making the County-City Building campus a more attractive and pedestrian friendly site,” said Scott Hogman, the county’s facilities construction manager.