HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County commissioners have awarded $370,000 in contracts to install canopies over two entrances at the courthouse and improve handicapped access.
Commissioners Diane Meling and Terry Tomassetti on Tuesday awarded contracts to BCS Construction, 1117 21st Ave., as the general contractor at a cost of $329,175 and to Commercial Electric Co. of Duncansville for $41,850 for electrical work.
Commissioner Ted Beam was on vacation.
The low bids were submitted a week ago and came in below the $400,000 estimated cost of the project.
Commissioners asked architect Pat Baechle of Hollidaysburg how long the construction will take.
He said the contractors had 120 days to complete their work, stating he expects work to be done by the end of the year.
A preconstruction conference will be held Friday, Baechle said.
The projects are designed to eliminate a couple of problems at the courthouse.
The principal entrance to the courthouse, just off a large patio in front of the new addition, includes security equipment and often two or three sheriff's deputies who search people, their pocketbooks and other items they may be carrying.
Sometimes an overflow crowd coming into the courthouse blocks the first floor hallway.
The project will expand the area for the security equipment to include the foyer just before entering the courthouse, helping clear the hallway.
Canopies will be installed outside the main and side entrances to provide protection from the weather for crowds lining up to enter the courthouse.
The handicapped entrance to the courthouse also will be enhanced, Meling said.
The project will affect public access to the courthouse.
Each entrance will be closed during the work. Initially the main entrance will be closed with everybody entering through the Union Street door.
When the main entrance canopy has been installed, the Union Street entrance will be closed, meaning employees will have to use the front entrance temporarily.
After Tuesday's meeting Meling said that alternatives were explored including the temporary use of a rear entrance to the courthouse, but the commissioners decided not to go with that suggestion to avoid having the public walking along the narrow alley.
Also considered was use of the front entrance of the old section of the courthouse, but it was recently discovered that a finial above the courthouse steps was loose. Meling said that, plus the condition of the steps, ruled out use of the old entrance.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.