AUGUSTA — The state court system will ring in the year with a new courthouse. The Capital Judicial Center has been given the green light by both the city of Augusta and the state fire marshal’s office.

The parking lots are paved and striped, all the glass is installed, and trucks carrying interior furnishings are parking on the circle that leads to the main entrance of the four-story structure that is highly visible from the east side of the Kennebec River and just about everywhere downtown.

Court clerks and other personnel are scheduled to relocate there in late February, and the doors open to the public March 2, according to Mary Ann Lynch, of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

The project, which began in August 2012, has run on time and under budget, according to Phil Johnston, the project manager for the Maine Judicial Branch.

“There are still systems that need to be completed,” he said on Monday, and construction vehicles and workers remain on the scene. Some exterior trim, including that on the lantern that tops a tall stairwell, needs to be finished.

The new judicial center will house Kennebec County Superior Court and Augusta District Court as well as the Family Division and the Administrative Office of the Courts currently located at 65 and 24 Stone St. in Augusta.

The new building has four elevators, one for employees, one for inmates and two for the public; six courtrooms, four small ones and two large enough to seat up to 150 people in the public area; and all have a form of natural light, a feature lacking currently in the two courtrooms in Augusta District Court several blocks away.

Consigli Construction Co. workers will remain until the end of next summer because the completion of the 120,000-square-foot judicial center triggers the beginning of a renovation project in the adjacent Kennebec County Courthouse. The two buildings are linked by a glass-enclosed walkway. Some $2 million of the $57 million court project has been set aside to renovate the historic courthouse. Improvements are to include installation of a fire and sprinkler system, refurbishing of the large courtroom and some judicial chambers as well as public bathrooms.

The county building has acquired a new sign as well, indicating that it houses Kennebec County Probate Court as well as the district attorney’s office.

“As soon as the county building is emptied of the clerk’s department, work will begin on that building,” Johnston said.

In the meantime, the state has acquired four properties on Perham Street behind the Kennebec County jail that are destined to become more court parking. In all, almost 180 parking spaces in terraced lots are expected to be available for those working in the building and those called to serve for jury duty. Nineteen additional slots are secure spaces in the lower level garage. The city Planning Board required more parking than the 93 spaces in the court system’s original proposal to avoid having courthouse parking spill over into neighborhood streets.

The demolition of the four existing buildings is expected to take place in early January, Johnston said.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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