‘Lot’ of issues

Commissioners weigh parking upgrades

Times Observer photo by Josh Cotton The parking lot at the Warren County Courthouse is up for a complete re-design and the Warren County Commissioners discussed the scope of that project during Monday’s work session.

The Warren County Commissioners are planning for a complete re-design of the parking lot at the Warren County Courthouse.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said during Monday’s work session that the engineer on the project, E&M, has “surveyed the property” and is “prepared to move forward” with the project.

The project involves “re-doing the entire parking lot, re-grading it, digging the entire thing up.”

The plan includes a sidewalk along the west side of the courthouse from Fourth Avenue back to the single-point access off of Fifth Ave. as well as drainage improvements, especially at the Fourth Ave. entrance that frequently floods.

“Water collects in a variety of places around the lot,” Eggleston said. Mud collects in the summer and he said it is “even worse” in the winter. “The number of falls in my opinion is way too high. A lot has to do with drainage of the lot not being properly done.”

He added that there are Americans with Disabilities Act “issues across the parking lot that need to be addressed. All of those things are to be addressed by this proposal.”

The Fifth Ave. turn-in to the courthouse will also be shifted, he explained to create a “single lane of traffic that moves through” the lot.

“The goal of this is to address traffic flow, make it easier and more accessible” to enter and exit the lot.

Once in the lot, changes are also coming to the parking spaces themselves.

Eggleston explained that the angled spots will be switched to straight spaces.

“The goal is to free up more space,” he said. “Angled spots take up more space in the lot (and) creates a lot of issues with visibility in the parking lot which, I think, is an issue.

Since the Fourth Ave. entrance was closed, pedestrians have been required to walk around the building, often in the lane of traffic, to get to the secure entrance.

Eggleston said a heated sidewalk would be installed as part of this project along the west side of the courthouse to alleviate this issue.

“Runoff from the roof, (there is an) enormous amount of ice that builds up on that side of the building,” Eggleston said, noting the effort is an attempt to “mitigate the liability issues there as much as possible.”

He said the handicapped spaces at the courthouse would also move to just outside the Fifth Ave. entrance, according to the proposal.

Total engineering cost, according to the proposal is $58,000, Eggleston said.

“In my opinion, it seems like quite a bit. (But) for the scope of the project, it is going to be a pretty big project, generally speaking.”

Commissioner Ben Kafferlin asked what estimates have been provided for the total cost of the project.

“(It’s) very difficult to say,” Eggleston said, noting that the engineering work would include information relative to cost.

“I know there’s going to be CCAP (County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania) money coming into the project,” Kafferlin said. “We could also pull some road funds. (I) would like to get a sense for just how much the county will have to pay out of our capital reserves to make the project complete.”

While other possibilities were considered, Eggleston said the plan is to continue to keep the lot open to two-way traffic with an expanded Fourth Ave. entrance.

“There was discussion about removing the exit on Market St.,” Eggleston said.

The proposal will potentially be before the commissioners for formal approval as soon as Wednesday.

While Eggleston said that he’s not sure the cost estimate on the project can be gathered before Wednesday, he said a decision would need to be made soon in order to get a contractor lined up.

“(We’re) going to want them going on it as soon as the weather breaks,” he said.