A new central courthouse is urgently needed in Multnomah County to replace the seismically deficient and functionally obsolete courthouse. The state and the county are 50-50 funding partners for construction of this project.
About $17.4 million in state bonding authority is needed for the 2015-17 biennium to complete the next phase of the project. Site selection for a new courthouse will be completed by early 2015 with groundbreaking scheduled for late 2016. The new, safe and efficient courthouse will open in 2020.
Courthouses are one of the few places the public is compelled to enter. More than 600,000 people come to the Multnomah County Courthouse annually, including judges, court staff and thousands of people who use the building for court-related business like jury duty. If a major earthquake hits the Portland community, the courthouse will collapse. Studies show exit paths would be blocked and citizens would be trapped inside.
The Multnomah County Courthouse carries a statewide caseload. If it is not operational, Oregon will lose more than $17 million in general fund dollars that currently support state court operations.
This investment in a 21st century courthouse will ensure the safety and security of Oregonians.
What are the pressing issues for the Multnomah County Courthouse?
The early 20th-century building was constructed using hollow-core bricks and has unreinforced masonry walls that cannot withstand an earthquake and will collapse into the courtrooms and hallways.
There are serious safety concerns because prisoners are escorted through the same public hallways as crime victims, families and citizens.
There are obsolete electrical and mechanical systems that could shut down court operations for long periods of time.
Given these safety concerns, it is important that the current courthouse be replaced as quickly as possible. Your support for this project to create a safe and secure courthouse is critical.