In the Wake County courthouse, there is one experience shared by defendants, attorneys, witnesses and judges alike: The elevators.
Long decried as some of the worst rides in town, four of the building’s six aging people movers are soon to get a $2.1 million upgrade.
“Practicing law in Wake County is made much worse by having to go up and down those elevators,” said Commissioner John Burns, an attorney.
The upgrade won’t make the cabs travel any faster through the shafts, but new equipment should speed the arrival and departure process by a few seconds per trip.
Staff say the upgrade is needed because the 12-floor elevators’ machinery and controls are “at the end of their useful life.” Often, only three of the four elevators in question are functional at any one time.
The work will include a renovation of the elevator cars, new power circuits, lighting, sump pumps, and other improvements.
Commissioner Betty Lou Ward said the elevators’ last upgrade, some 20 years ago, was welcome news. “It has just become slower and slower and slower,” she said.
The building’s two shorter elevators, largely used by sheriff’s office staffers, will have to wait longer for an upgrade. Contractors bid higher than the county’s budget allowed, forcing staff to cut the project down.
Work will begin this fall, after S&S Building and Development has certain parts fabricated. Only one shaft will close at a time. The new elevators should open by 2016.
“And it won’t feel like you’re at a freight elevator at the back of a shopping mall,” Burns said.
The project, along with renovation of a lobby, will mark the end of the revamp of the 45-year-old building.