St. Clair County officials have approved more than $1 million in renovations to the courthouse to correct violations of the American Disabilities Act that federal investigators found in 2009.
The renovations include revamping an exterior walkway and courtrooms to comply with federal requirements intended to ensure disabled residents have access to the courthouse. Members of the Public Building Commission gave the OK for the projects during a meeting on Thursday.
These two large renovations are some of the final improvements required after officials with the Justice Department found violations of the American Disabilities Act at the courthouse in 2009.
The county will spend more than $641,000 to renovate the walkway, which leads from a parking garage above Washington Street to the courthouse. The improvements will include adding anti-slip flooring, lowering hand rails and lessening the degree of the walkway's slope.
The Justice Department initially wanted the county to replace the entire walkway at a cost of about $2 million, according to County Administrator Dan Maher. County officials were able to bring the walkway close to compliance without tearing down the original walkway at a "huge savings," Maher said.
The walkway was constructed in 1986, according to county Director of Public Buildings Jim Brede, six years prior to the passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in 1992.
The work will also include nearly $939,000 in improvements to courtrooms on the fourth floor of the courthouse. About half of that cost will be for improving accessibility to the courtrooms, Brede said.
The project will also install new carpet, improve electronic equipment in courtrooms and move a booth for security officers. Impact Strategies in Fairview Heights has been hired to make the improvements.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.