AUGUSTA — Steel beams and concrete stair towers frame the new courthouse rising atop a hill in the middle of the city.

Ten months into the building of a new consolidated courthouse in Augusta, the outline of the structure at Winthrop and Perham streets is visible to motorists traveling west across Memorial Bridge.

So far, it’s on budget and on time.

“The project’s been great,” said Philip Johnston, project manager for the Augusta Court Facility. “We haven’t run into any unforeseen difficulties.”

Consigli Construction Co. Inc. is doing the construction project for a guaranteed maximum price of $42.9 million. The entire cost of the project is about $52 million.

Work on the 2 1/2-acre site takes place under the watchful eyes of personnel and visitors to the Kennebec County Courthouse.

That historic courthouse eventually will be linked to the new facility by a glassed-in connector on an upper floor.

In the new courthouse, the two tall concrete stair towers await linking to the giant steel beams. One bright corrugated steel deck was in place on the first floor.

Reinforcing bars were next on the list, followed by a concrete pour.

One large rectangle of steel appeared lower than the surrounding level, and was designed so cables for computers, electricity, and other lines could be run anywhere under the floor.

“It’s the same kind of floor in a computer room where you want access under the floor,” he said.

Last week, 35 to 40 workers from Consigli and R. J. Grondin, of Gorham, and other companies worked at the site, as steelworkers hooked up beams to be lifted by a crane.

Some workers created forms for shear walls — braced panels that will add lateral stability to the structure — and earth-moving equipment carved terraces and parking lots.

The building will have 18 of those walls, each weighing 40,000 to 80,000 pounds, so heavy it has to be lifted from its horizontal bed by a special crane.

The schedule calls for the roof to be in place by this November and for the building to be completed by December 2014, with the move-in occurring two months later.

“Progress has been good to date,” said Dave Thomas, project executive at Consigli. “Some of the more challenging parts of the project are coming upon us to get the building closed for the winter.”

Consigli also built the Penobscot Judicial Center, which opened in late 2009 under budget, according to the annual report of the Maine Judicial Branch.

The courthouse in Augusta is a longer project than that.

“The reason is because of the site that we’re on,” Thomas said. “It’s the tight site and the topography of the site, being on the side of the hill.”

When finished, the building will hold six courtrooms and encompass the Augusta District Court and Family Court, which are in separate locations in the capital, as well as Kennebec County Superior Court and a consolidated clerks’ office.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com