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Sacramento courthouse project gets boost in budget revision

Sacramento Superior Court leaders have long been eager to build a new railyard courthouse to replace the old Gordon Schaber Courthouse they call outdated, overcrowded and unsafe.
Sacramento Superior Court leaders have long been eager to build a new railyard courthouse to replace the old Gordon Schaber Courthouse they call outdated, overcrowded and unsafe. aseng@sacbee.com

Sacramento’s long-awaited railyard courthouse could be a step closer to reality with $460 million in construction funding proposed in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revise budget.

The state Assembly would still have to sign off on the multimillion dollar allocation and design plans likely won’t be finalized until next month, but Sacramento Superior Court officials are cautiously encouraged as judged by a statement released Monday afternoon reacting to the news.

“While this was great news, we recognize that there are still additional approvals required by the Legislature which hopefully will occur by mid-June. Funding for the construction of the new building is the final milestone in this project,” said the statement from Lloyd Connelly, the court's executive officer.

The proposed funding, moved up from the 2019-2020 budget year, would go to erect a 53-courtroom unified criminal and civil courthouse on H Street between 5th and 6th streets.

Sacramento court officials had long sought funding to replace the aging Gordon D. Schaber courthouse in downtown Sacramento.

The half-century old building had been panned for years as unsafe, too crowded and too old.

Meanwhile, neighboring counties including Yolo, Sutter, Placer and San Joaquin welcomed new courthouses.

The situation at the Schaber building was considered so dire that the state’s Judicial Council designated the 9th Street courthouse as having an “immediate need” to be replaced.

Sacramento and four other courthouse projects in Glenn, Riverside, Sonoma and Stanislaus counties are now on the funding list at nearly $972 million, according to the state Department of Finance.

Court officials here had continued to work toward a new building after state judicial officials in summer 2016 decided to halt new courthouse construction projects statewide. They met with architects on preliminary plans and sketched out working drawings while seeking funding options.

Judicial Council officials at the time were beset by a funding crisis that affected plans for more than two dozen other projects in various stages of development in 26 counties across the state. Much of the blame was directed at the return of $1.4 billion earmarked for courthouse construction back into the state's general fund to help California work its way out of recession.

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